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The Moon Is About To Make Mars Disappear. Here’s How To View Wednesday’s ‘Eclipse’ in Chicago

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(Lim Yaw Keong/Pixabay)(Lim Yaw Keong/Pixabay)

Skywatchers will have their eyes peeled Wednesday night for a rare celestial event: a Mars “eclipse.” How long or not Chicagoans will be able to see the show — pun intended — depends on the cloud cover.

If the evening is clear, look up shortly after 21:00 to see the full moon glide in front of Mars, obscuring the red planet until it emerges on the other side of the lunar disk an hour later.

The phenomenon is known as occultation, which simply means “something passes in front of something else in the sky and blocks the view,” said Michelle Nichols, director of public observation at the Adler Planetarium.

“You could call it an eclipse, they kind of mean the same thing,” Nichols said, though eclipses are usually reserved for events involving the moon, he added.

Occultations in general happen quite often – think of all the times the moon passes in front of a star – it’s just that the temporary disappearance of an object that no one can see or pay attention to in the first place tends not to create much of a stir. .

But there are only so many planets, Nichols said, and even fewer like Mars that are bright enough for an occultation to register as something to observe.

“The moon passes in front of Uranus and nobody notices,” Nichols said.

Many of these fly-bys occur during daylight hours and even when they occur at night, they are not seen anywhere on earth. Chicago is perfectly positioned for Wednesday’s event (with the weather caveat).

“I’ve personally never seen an occultation,” Nichols said. “I’ve never had the luck of being clear or looking at the right time.”

What he said should be particularly interesting is the opportunity to get an idea of ​​the movement of the moon in space, using Mars as a fixed point.

Everything You Need To Know To Watch The December 2022 Mars Occultation #ShortsEverything You Need To Know To Watch The December 2022 Mars Occultation #Shorts

Some talking about occultations is a lingering effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, as telescope sales skyrocketed and people started turning to the skies for entertainment when there was nothing else to do, Nichols said .

To meet demand, Adler launched her Sky Observers Hangout series online during the pandemic and has been pleased to see people continue to tune into the weekly YouTube sessions.

“It was really fun riding that wave,” Nichols said.

She will be host a virtual hangout on Wednesday evening coincide with the occultation. The Adler will point its telescope at Mars “on the off chance that we can see even a second,” Nichols said.

But you don’t need any special equipment to watch the show.

With its distinctive orange glow, Mars is easy enough to spot, and it will be even more so on Wednesday. Pop outside at 2100, locate the moon – to the southeast, about two-thirds in the sky – and Mars will be the orange dot to its left, at roughly the 7 o’clock position. Then watch it disappear.

The next opportunity for Chicagoans to witness such an event won’t come until January 2025.

Contact Patty Wetli: @pattywetli | (773) 509-5623 | [email protected]


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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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