Because the waning crescent moon rises within the small hours of the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 18, skywatchers will probably be getting ready for an uncommon occasion. That morning the moon glides in the entrance of orange, starlike planet Mars for viewers in a lot of central and eastern North America, in what is called an occultation.
Few parts of the western and central U.S. and Canada will have the ability to view each the disappearance and reappearance of the Red Planet in a dark or twilight sky. Nevertheless, from western Canada, the Pacific Northwest, and northern parts of California and Nevada, solely the top of the occultation might be seen since Mars will already be behind the moon when it rises around 3:30 a.m. native time. Then again, throughout the Japanese U.S., the planet will each disappear and emerge after sunup.
Underneath moderately darkish skies, this occasion might be watched over western areas with the bare eye or binoculars, though a telescope will present one of the best views. Over the Desert Southwest and elements of the Rocky Mountain States alongside and east of the Continental Divide, the whole occasion will happen underneath a dark sky; however, it will happen very low within the east-southeast, an open view of the horizon is required. Proper now, Mars is comparatively faint at magnitude +1.2 and might be dimmed additional by its low altitude; nevertheless, it shouldn’t be arduous to identify.
Near and immediately east (right) of a line extending roughly from Santa Barbara, California to Idaho Falls, Idaho to Havre, Montana, the intense limb of the moon occults the planet when it’s nonetheless too low to view. However, Mars’ reappearance from behind the moon’s dark limb can be rather more observable as a result of the moon will probably be increased above the horizon, and the planet will not be washed out by the crescent’s brilliant glare.