Moon, Mars And Earth To Align Before Dawn On Tuesday
Mars is set to vanish from the sky above North America on Tuesday morning, February 18, as a result of a rare eclipse-like event, known to astronomers as a lunar occultation.
Similarly to an eclipse, in which the Earth, moon and sun all line up, during an occultation, the Earth, moon and a planet – in this case Mars – align. Therefore, the red planet will be hidden from sight for those looking up from North America, as it passes directly behind the moon, during the incredibly rare event.
‘A lunar occultation involving a planet is a rare event. There are only a few per decade as seen from any given spot on the globe,’ AccuWeather Astronomy Blogger Dave Samuhel explained.
Check out NASA’s clip of the super blue moon lunar eclipse, which took place on January 31:
Fortunately, a telescope won’t be necessary for those wanting to witness the event, as Mars and the moon are both bright enough to see with the naked eye, however it’s important to know when to look.
The time Mars will disappear is entirely dependent on your location. For those in eastern United States, it will take place just after sunrise, which could make it harder to see because of the sunlight. Whereas, those in the Plains and Rockies will see the event more clearly as the red planet will vanish behind the moon in the dark, just before dawn, and will reappear when the sun rises.
Meanwhile, western United States will have the best chance at being able to photograph the occultation as it will begin when the moon and Mars are both out of sight, before the planet emerges behind the moon well before the light from the sun lights up the sky.
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