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RARE LUNAR OCCULTATION HAPPENS TODAY

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How it works and why it is a big deal?

The moon will perform a spectacular astronomical ‘dance’ past three planets and a Leo constellation star as part of a rare lunar ‘occultation’ on Monday, September 17 2017.

Depending on your location, you may get the opportunity to see Earth’s natural satellite ‘cover’ Venus, Mars, Mercury or even one of the brightest stars in the sky, Regulus.

WHAT IS IT?

An occultation occurs when a planet (or an asteroid) passes between an object in the distance and the object’s observer.

According to the science publication EarthSky, the event promises to be the last time three planets are almost simultaneously occulted by the moon until 2036.

The discovery of the rings of Uranus can be credited to a 1977 occultation with a far-off star, after NASA’s Kuiper Airborne Observatory spotted the stunning feature against its brighter backdrop during the celestial event.

BEST PLACE TO SEE IT

The best place on Earth to see the moon glide between us and Mars will be around the islands of Hawaii at 20:00 GMT.

People on board ships in the South Pacific could also get an eyeful of the Mercury occult before midnight on Monday – should they have a telescope handy.

 

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