Are you ready for the biggest astronomical event of the year?
The night of Wednesday, December 7, 2022 is when to be looking to the night sky because that’s when a full “Cold Moon” will appear to blot out Mars.
Here’s everything you need about when, where and how to see this rare “occultation” of Mars by the Moon from where you are—with just your own naked eyes:
When is Mars at ‘opposition?’
This week the red planet will look its brightest and best for over two years—and until 2025—as Earth and Mars are at their closest.
But it’s a complete coincidence that just as Mars reaches its biggest, brightest and best for 26 months it will be occulted—eclipsed—by the full Moon. The most recent opposition was in October 2020 and the next one will be in January 2025.
It will occur at almost the exact moment that the Earth is between Mars and the Sun—the night of December 7-8, 2022.
Where to see Mars occulted by the Moon
Most of North America, northern Mexico, Europe and northern Africa will see Mars disappear behind the Moon for about an hour. There’s a handy map on the website of the International Occultation Timing Association.
When to see Mars occulted by the Moon
The occultation takes place for North Americans in the evening hours of December 7, 2022. Here are the disappearance and reappearance times for eight cities in the occultation zone in North America:
- Los Angeles, CA: 6:30 p.m. PST-7:30 p.m. PST
- Seattle, WA: 6:52 p.m. PST-7:51 p.m. PST
- Vancouver, BC: 6:55 p.m. PST-7:52 p.m. PST
- Phoenix, AZ: 7:32 p.m. MST-8:31 p.m. MST
- Denver, CO: 7:45 p.m. MST-8:48 p.m. MST
- St. Louis, MO: 9:06 p.m. CST-9:52 p.m. CST
- Chicago, IL: 9:11 p.m. CST-10:05 p.m. CST
- Toronto, ON: 10:29 p.m. EST-11:18 p.m. EST
How to see Mars occulted by the Moon
You don’t need anything except good timing and your own naked eyes to enjoy this event, though if you do have a a pair of binoculars do have them ready for a stunning close-up—particularly the lingering moments where Mars disappears from view behind the lunar limb.
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.