It is a rare event that will be visible everywhere in France, with the naked eye and even in the city center: the occultation of Mars by the Moon. The red planet will then disappear before your eyes for several long minutes. 1Verse December, Mars is closest to Earth.
The bright orange point you see over the eastern and northeastern horizon in the early evening now is Mars. Our neighbor lights up between the horns of Taurus and begins sliding toward the right (in the west) at the beginning of December. like him constellationconstellation Rise high in the sky LaylaLaylait is a feature for observing the red planet in an instrument (reflecting telescope, telescopetelescope) at night, because disturbancedisturbance The atmosphere there is weaker than below, near the horizon.
This Thursday 1Verse December, Mars will be closest to Earth, at a distance of about 81.4 million km. It was not as close as it was a few years ago, in 2003, during the extraordinary rapprochement between our two planets of 56 million km, but it is better than the two planets farthest, from which we are more than 100 million km away. . These differences are due toorbitorbit Elliptical orbit of Mars around the Sun.
A rare phenomenon: the planet Mars is eclipsed by the moon!
Specifically the Sun, Mars will oppose it a week later, on December 8, in its own time hidehide. In other words, the planet would be perfectly aligned with Earth and our star, but it wouldn’t be visible at this very moment. Of course you’ll be able to admire it all night before the event, still in Taurus, and halfway between the star El Nath, which shines at the tip of the western horn, and AldebaranAldebaranI’eyeeye from Taurus.
So at the end of the night (the night of December 7 to 8) that the moonthe moon He passes before him, and makes him disappear at about half past one. A rare, not-to-be-missed 6am alibi, which will be over against the glowing lightsdawndawnA few minutes before sunrise. It will take several seconds for the moon to completely engulf Mars. It is a splendid spectacle which would be possible to follow with the naked eye everywhere in France, and in a large part of Northern and Western Europe (see map), and without difficulty in the city centre, provided the northwest horizon is clear.
A moment of blessing that many photographers will not miss under any circumstances, and of course the Astronomy scientistsAstronomy scientists Confirmed beginners or amateurs. in telescopeyou will be able to guess the details of the surface of Mars, such as the surface of Mars massesmasses dark features. Note that at the edge of one of them lies the Gale crater, and therefore Rover Curiosity, just ahead and roughly in the center of the red disk of Mars, shortly before occultation (see map of Mars on December 8 at 7 a.m. below). An opportunity to reflect on him and salute his work as well as his work perseveranceOn the other side.
So Mars will be eclipsed by a full moonfull moon Incomparably more dazzling. This poses no danger to the eye, however variancevariance It will be great. When your eyes get used to its brilliance, you will have plenty of time to admire Tree branchTree branch The moon and its inscriptions crushed by the bright sunlight. With the full moon, there is almost no shadow on Earth that would help us feel the roughness of its surface with our eyes.
This event takes place a month after the previous one, different, but wonderful, which the Europeans unfortunately escaped: A total eclipse of the moon With a feature obscuring Uranus, a distant and cold world, with a turquoise blue glow, much larger than Mars and Earth.