Moon will block three planets during a 24 hour period


A cosmic game of hide and seek will be visible to stargazers tonight when the moon aligns with three planets and one of the brightest stars visible from Earth.

Our planet’s natural orbital satellite will block Venus, Mars, Mercury and the star Regulus, in the Leo constellation, during a 24 hour period of occultations.

The cosmic clockwork in our solar system often sees the moon align with other celestial bodies, but this particular arrangement occurs just once every 28 years. 

A cosmic game of hide and seek will be visible to stargazers tonight when the moon aligns with three planets and one of the brightest stars visible from Earth. Our planet's natural orbital satellite will block Venus, Mars, Mercury and the star Regulus, in the Leo constellation 

The last time the moon slid past three planets within 24 hours as it is this week was on March 5, 2008, on this occasion with Mercury, Venus and Neptune all occulted.

The next time will be in 2036, according to The New York Times.

Jackie Faherty, an astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History, told the site: ‘It’s almost like it’s a dance in the sky.

‘It’s going to pass its partners.’

The moon already passed Venus and Regulus during the early hours of this morning.

Viewers in mid-northern latitudes should be able to view the Mars event this evening at around 19.45 BST (14:45 EST).

The Mercury event will occur at 23:21 BST (18:21 EST).

Binoculars and telescopes will help with spotting the sights, although some may be visible to the naked eye.

Those in Australia, New Zealand and parts of the Southeast Pacific, including Indonesia will also get the best view of Venus this evening.

But because Venus is very bright, it may still visible during the daytime without a telescope.

Regulus will be most visible in India, the Middle East and parts of Southeast Asia.

An occultation is an event that happens when one object is hidden by another object that passes between it and the observer. A famous example was August's total eclipse of the sun, seen here

The moon already passed Venus and Regulus during the early hours of this morning.

Viewers in mid-northern latitudes should be able to view the Mars event this evening at around 19.45 BST (14:45 EST).

The Mercury event will occur at 23:21 BST (18:21 EST).

Those in Australia, New Zealand and parts of the Southeast Pacific, including Indonesia will also get the best view of Venus this evening.

But because Venus is very bright, it may still visible during the daytime without a telescope.

Regulus will be most visible in India, the Middle East and parts of Southeast Asia.

Mars will be most visible in Hawaii and parts of Mexico.

Mercury will be most visible over parts of the Pacific Ocean. 

Mars will be most visible in Hawaii and parts of Mexico.

Mercury will be most visible over parts of the Pacific Ocean. 

The next show for European viewers will be the moon’s alignment with the Taurus constellation on November 5.

An occultation is an event that happens when one object is hidden by another object that passes between it and the observer.

Venus eclipses are rare and occur only when the Earth, Moon and Venus are in alignment with one another.

A famous example was August’s total eclipse of the sun.

The star Regulus lies in the Leo constellation (bottom right of artist's impression), and will be blocked out by the moon during the occultation event 

During a total solar eclipse, the moon completely blocks the face of the sun.

This reveals the ‘pearly white halo’ of the sun’s corona, its outer atmosphere, which is invisible to the naked eye at all other times.

For this phenomenon to take place, the moon and the sun must be perfectly aligned, allowing the moon to appear as though it’s the exact size of the sun.

 



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