Moon Occultation: Three Planets Will Slide Behind the Moon
At the beginning of this week, the Moon will momentarily block Venus, Mars and then Mercury in the sky
The event is called a lunar occultation and it takes place whenever the Moon passes in front of a faraway celestial object. Solar eclipses are examples of the Moon occultatinng the Sun (however, it is riskier to your eyes).
These events can be noticed from Earth and are breathtaking, but they require special equipment, as long as a very good position.
The last time Moon slid past three planets in only 24 hours was on March 5th, 2008 (the planets were Mercury, Venus and Neptune), while the next event will take place in 2036. As a bonus, during this year’s event, the Moon will also interrupt the light from Regulus, which is the brightest star in the Leo constellation, just a few hours after it leaves Venus behind.
“It’s almost like it’s a dance in the sky,” said Jackie Faherty, an astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History. “It’s going to pass its partners.”
The occultation will be visible to only certain parts of the world. To make things even tougher, they happen during daytime hours. So, if you are in one of the locations that will see an occultation, you are most likely to catch it with a small telescope.