An occultation celebration?

This is not a bust for us!

courtesy pixabay.com

First, let’s get this definition out there: “occultation” simply means “the act of blocking or concealing from view.” All of that sure sounds like a verb, but it’s a noun! And tonight, almost everywhere but HERE, the moon will pass between Earth and Mars, hiding Mars from view. The planet Mars literally goes behind the moon. What’s nice is that the moon is full tonight and the occultation occurs in the late evening (10 p.m. to midnight), so lots of people will be able to see this happen. A big deal? Well, to some degree since lining up the Sun, the Earth, the full moon and Mars all at the same time only happens every couple of years.

courtesy EarthSky.org

Here’s a nice interview online with science “edutainer” the Great Orbax of just why this is so special.

The downside for us, sort of, is that the actual occultation is not seen everywhere including Houston, but our neighbors in San Antonio, Austin and Dallas will witness this. So some of our far western viewers may also get in on the act. But in Houston, we are just out of reach. However, we may actually get a better show -- Mars “skimming” across the top of the moon. I think given that everyone else will just see Mars disappear and we will see it ‘almost’ disappear actually will be a lot more interesting to watch! We’ll get to see something! I don’t consider this a bust at all!

And that moon! Here’s a Click2Pins submission from “Skywatcher” last night:

from "Skywatcher" on click2pins

Of course, this full moon is coined “The Cold Moon” and we know how THAT is going these days. I guess for occultation viewing that is also in our favor since no one will complain about the temperatures being too chilly!

We’ll see a change next week. In the meantime, you can read much more about tonight’s occultation right here thanks to EarthSky.org. There’s also a nice write-up at Sky and Telescope, right here.

If you get any great pics of this event, please send them my way or post them on Click2Pins.com!

Frank

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About the Authors:

KPRC 2's chief meteorologist with three decades of experience forecasting Houston's weather.

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.