Look up: Astronomical event on the way


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Early Tuesday morning, a neat astronomical event will occur. Across the United States, people will be able to watch the planet Mars disappear behind the moon. 

Unfortunately, it’s looking cloudy in West Michigan, so we won’t have the best view here. Our neighbors across the country with clearer conditions will be able to see Mars disappear behind the lit side of the moon then reappear on the dark side around an hour later. 

In Grand Rapids, Mars will disappear behind the moon around 7:12 a.m., just before sunrise. It will reappear after sunrise around 8:38 a.m. If skies were clear, a telescope would likely still be needed to view the phenomenon due to the lighter conditions. The western United States will have a better chance of seeing the occultation with the naked eye. 

An occultation of a planet is not rare, but you have to be on the right spot of the globe to see it happen. Almost all the United States will be able to see this occultation of Mars (weather permitting) with the only exceptions being Hawaii, Alaska and a small portion of the Pacific Northwest. 

We have a better chance of clearer conditions early Wednesday morning and early Thursday morning. In the pre-dawn hours on Wednesday, look to the southeast toward the moon. You should be able to see Jupiter to the left of the moon. 

Both Saturn and Jupiter will be close to the moon on Thursday morning. The moon will be to the lower right of Saturn and Jupiter will be to the upper right of the moon. Again, you’ll want to look toward the southeast at dawn. 

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