Adrian Dening's Stars Over Somerset

    Monday 5th to Sunday 11th December 2022

     

    It's a period of occultations!  Sounds like a series of sinister black magic ceremonies are going to be taking place, so I'd better explain..........

     

    In astronomical terms, an "occultation" occurs when one celestial body appears to pass in front of another, temporarily blocking it from our view.  Next week, the Moon is the culprit, with Uranus and then Mars being the victims.

     

    Firstly, between 4.50pm and 5.20pm on Monday 5th, the Moon (that will be located towards the east) will occult Uranus.  It will take about 20 seconds for the Moon's north west edge or "limb" to cover the planet and the same time for it to reappear behind the Moon's north east limb half an hour later.  In other words, the northern area of the Moon's surface will appear to hide the planet.

     

    Of course, Uranus is a small target for your telescope or binoculars, currently shining at a magnitude of only +5.6 and the Moon will be almost at its full phase, so creating a lot of light pollution.

     

    If you are up early on Thursday 8th around 4.50am and look towards the west, you can catch the Full Moon occulting Mars.  The Red Planet will take 37 seconds to disappear behind the north west limb of the Moon at 4.57am and 37 seconds to reappear from behind the south east limb a whole hour later.  Because Mars is so bright, shining at a magnitude of -1.9, the event can even be viewed with the naked eye!

     

    In a twist of fate, Mars reaches opposition, when it is at its absolute brightest, while it's behind the Moon at 5.36am that morning!

     

    Screenshots courtesy of Stellarium

    Copyright Adrian Dening and Radio Ninesprings 2022

    www.starsoversomerset.com

     

    More from Community & Charity News

    Today's Weather

    • Yeovil

      Sunny intervals

      High: 6°C | Low: -2°C

    • Chard

      Sunny intervals

      High: 5°C | Low: -2°C

    • Crewkerne

      Sunny intervals

      High: 5°C | Low: -2°C

    • Somerton

      Sunny intervals

      High: 6°C | Low: -2°C

    • Wincanton

      Sunny intervals

      High: 6°C | Low: -2°C

    Recently Played