Fine Art Images from the American Southwest

Lunar Occultation of Mars. Night Sky, 02-01-2023

Greetings from San Cristobal, NM. Two days before, I’d heard that the lunar occultation (covering) of mars by the moon, was imminent, that it would begin and end between 9 to 11 pm MST. It turns out that here in northern NM, we would be on the periphery of the viewable range, in other words, we are too far north and will possibly, see Mars skirt the edge of the moon. As the evening went on, I became frustrated with the event, the frigid temps dwindling batteries, and cold hands. After a few trips indoors to warm up, I was ready to call it a night.

Here’s the first shot of the moon and Mars when I saw it. The moon’s direction of travel in the first image is from the lower to the upper part of the frame. Is there an up and down in space? Click to enlarge.

Lunar occultation of Mars
January 30, 2023, Lunar occultation of Mars.

After a lengthy warm-up by the woodstove cupping a glass of whisky, I went back to the camera set up on the deck, got the moon in my viewfinder, and spotted Mars about to vanish behind the moon. Mars is on the upper right edge of the moon.

Mars disappearing behind the moon
Mars disappearing behind the moon.
The Lunar occultation of mars
The Lunar occultation (covering) of Mars occurs.
Lunar occultation, Mars emerges from behind the moon
Mars emerges from behind the moon.

Here’s a close-up of the planet Mars emerging. The time frame of this event was about 20 minutes. Time on the deck from start to finish 2.5 hours.

Close-up of the moon and mars.
Close-up of the moon and mars.

You can read more about the occultation here.

Lastly this week, I have to share the birds Three crows, eyes left!

American crows cottonwood tree
Three American Crows in the old cottonwood tree, San Cristobal.

One of a very large flock of Pinyon Jays in the garden this week. They emptied the bird feed in twenty minutes. This bird was waiting for it’s opportunity to feed but it doesn’t look very enthusiastic.

Pinyon Jay one of a large flock.
Pinyon Jay.

As always, thanks for looking and for all your kind words and compliments.

20 thoughts on “Lunar Occultation of Mars. Night Sky, 02-01-2023”

  1. Wow! It’s amazing you saw tiny Mars. I need to look up occultation…. Thanks for freezing your fingers off, Geraint. Much appreciated.

    • Thank you so much, Jo. I own a decent telephoto lens and have been looking up since I was a kid. Now we have apps, back then there were paper maps of the starry sky. G

  2. Love the photos, and figure a lot of people ran to google to verify that the root of occulation is indeed “occult.” Now even less is hidden!! Take care.

    • I like your observation, I had to look it up the first time too. But hey all is revealed in time. Thank you, Jim. Keep your posts coming. G

  3. Hi Geraint .. very impressed with your photos of the moon and mars.. you are lucky to have been able to have your set up on your deck, where, as you can sneak in and get warm, and come back out again. Have a great day…. Carol

    • We also have great views all around and dark skies with very little sky pollution. I was definitely thankful for the warm fire. Thank so much, Carol. G

    • Mostly the genetic arthritis in my fingers hurt when it’s extremely cold. I’m glad I stayed up and out there. Thank you, Alison. G


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