A December Mars Event!
By Jeff Hoffmeister
Be ready to deal with the late fall cold night air even for just a few minutes. On the evening of December 7th,
not only will Mars be at its opposition at 10pm (point in our sky opposite the Sun), but there will be a full
Moon (8:08pm). Then to top it off a Lunar Occultation of Mars where the Moon, pictured 1, will pass in
front of Mars. These kind of events do not happen very often. Mars will disappear at about 6:51pm on
the Moon western limb (left side normal view) at a Position Angle of 51 degrees. It will then reappear
nearly an hour later at 7:50pm on the Moons eastern limb (right side normal view) at a Position Angle of
269 degrees. Position Angles of the Moon start at 0 degrees at the Moon’s North pole and work there way
counter clockwise to 90 degrees on the Moons Equatorial West Limb to 180 degrees at the South pole then to
270 degrees at its Equatorial East Limb then back up to North. The Full Moon will be bright making it a bit
difficult to view the event, even with a bright orange Mars, but it’s worth the try. . . if it’s clear that is. Using a
darkening filter on your telescope or binoculars may help. Mars will be at its closest point to the Earth on
November 30th at 6pm at 50.6 million miles.
Good luck. Clear Skies everyone.
Figure 1. An example of the Moon Occulting Mars. Image from Universe