Rare Mars eclipse by full moon stuns stargazers with occultation
On Wednesday (Dec. 7), skywatchers around the world were treated to a celestial show as the full moon eclipsed Mars in the night sky.
The rare event, known as a lunar eclipse, refers to one celestial body – in this case Mars – seems to disappear or hide behind another – in this case the moon. This eclipse was especially notable because Mars was in opposition, meaning Soil stood directly between the planet and the sun, making the Red Planet appear particularly bright in the night sky.
Last night’s eclipse of Mars by the full moon produced some stunning images from observers around the world. The Griffith Observatory in California had a great view the moon and Mars converged on Dec. 7, capturing a time-lapse of the Red Planet disappearing behind Earth’s celestial companion, as seen in the video above.
In addition, skywatchers around the world have been posting beautiful images of the Martian lunar eclipse to social media, providing a glimpse into one of the most watched celestial events of the year.
Astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy captured Mars and the full moon (opens in new tab) in a beautiful close-up:
This is when Mars peeked out from behind our moon after being hidden for an hour. This shot was taken with my largest telescope and a special high-speed camera. It was such a surreal experience to watch another planet rise on our moon’s horizon. pic.twitter.com/8IctbVXuUMDecember 8, 2022
Spaceflight photographer John Kraus caught one beautiful image of Mars (opens in new tab) as it appeared behind the moon after eclipse:
Amateur astrophotographer Tom Williams produced a beautiful image of the Moon and Mars by combining multiple images and offering an explanation of how he created the image (opens in new tab) on Twitter.
The #Occcultation of #Mars in 2022! This is a crop of a wider view showing the red planet as it descends behind the eastern lunar rim captured from home last night. Sinus Gomer takes center stage with Syrtis Major at the top. See thread for processing. What an event! #astrophotography pic.twitter.com/IBNiW8mA9cDecember 8, 2022
Amateur astronomer and photographer Tom Glenn produced a breathtaking image of Mars (opens in new tab) rise above the moon by stacking 15 different photo frames.
#Mars rises above the lunar rim. This is a stack of 15 frames captured within a 2 second interval during the end of the #Moon occultation. Captured with a C9.25 Edge HD and ASI678mc. pic.twitter.com/xrDiI3d7keDecember 8, 2022
Astronomer and science communicator Phil Plait caught Mars creeps behind the moon (opens in new tab) just before the eclipse.
The Moon and Mars a few minutes before #occultation. I shot this through my bedroom window using my telescope and a phone camera (that’s why there’s a strong moon reflection in the top left). Note the color contrast! The occultation was cool, taki… https://t.co/lpxYVpmbmi pic.twitter.com/SUISrvttx7December 8, 2022
The lunar eclipse of Mars by the full Cold Moon was especially notable because the Red Planet only appears in opposition every 26 months, so the next opposition will not occur until January 2025.
Mars was also particularly close to Earth during this event, which occurred while the planet was at perigee, or closest to Earth in its orbit. The record for the closest approach between Mars and Earth was set in 2003 at just 34.8 million miles (56 million kilometers); according to NASA, Mars and Earth won’t be that close for the next 265 years, until 2287.
Editor’s Note: If you take a great photo of either Mars at opposition or lunar eclipse and want to share it with Space.com readers, send your photo(s), comments, and your name and location to [email protected].
Editor’s Note: This piece was updated on Dec. 8 at 4:30 p.m. EST (2130 GMT) to indicate that the record for Mars’ closest approach to Earth was set in 2003.
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