Lunar Occultation – Mars Disappears

Mars at Moon's Edge

The Moon occasionally moves in front of all of the Solar System’s planets, including Mars. Credit: Sergio Scauso

What are some skywatching highlights in December 2022? The Moon sweeps past

What to look for in December 2022: Mars disappears, and Pegasus rides to adventure. Viewers in most of the U.S. and Europe can watch Mars slip behind the Moon on December 7, and everyone can find the winged horse constellation Pegasus.

  • December 1 – Look in the southwest this evening to find the Moon only a couple of finger-widths apart from the brilliant planet Jupiter.
  • December 7 – Full moon
  • December 7 – The Moon occults, or covers up, Mars tonight. In the U.S., Mars slips behind the Moon for viewers everywhere outside the East Coast and Southeast, where the Moon will appear to just barely graze past Mars. Check your favorite stargazing app or website for the timing of the disappearance and reappearance of Mars.
  • December 23 – New moon
  • December 25-31 – Check out the Moon and planets at year’s end. Watch each evening as the increasingly full Moon slides past Moon Mars Occultation

    Lunar occultation of Mars. Credit: Andrés Jobacho

Video Transcript:

What’s Up for December? Your evening planet highlights, including the disappearance of Mars, and the constellation Pegasus.

The month begins and ends with the Moon visiting the giant planets. On December 1st, find the Moon just a couple of finger-widths apart from Jupiter in the evening sky. Then, from the 25th to the 31st, look to the southwest following sunset to see an increasingly full Moon slip past Saturn and then again past Jupiter. Viewers with a clear view to the horizon will be able to search for

Now, the Moon passes in front of planets in the night sky several times per year. In fact, it generally occults Mars itself at least a couple of times per year. But each occultation is visible from only a small portion of Earth’s surface, so it’s not super common for any particular spot on Earth to see them frequently.

Of course, the Moon passes in front of stars all the time. If you’re watching through binoculars, they just blink right out. But planets are not just points of light like stars – they appear as circular little disks, so planets actually take several seconds to disappear and later reemerge. So if you’re in the viewing zone, enjoy this relatively rare opportunity to watch a bright…

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