Delhites should be ready for another celestial event, Lunar Occultation — when a star or a planet moves behind the Moon and sometime later, reappears from behind the moon.
In the next few days on May 10, Lunar Occultation of the planet Mars will take place in the evening. According to Director of Nehru Planetarium N. Rathnasree this Lunar Occultation may be viewed from all over the country.
Before and after the occultation, there is a view of the moon and this celestial object close together in the sky, adding to the interest of the event, she said. As viewed from Delhi, mars will be seen to move behind the dark limb of the moon, at about 7:41 pm and reappear from behind the bright limb, at about 8:44 pm. Moon, at this time, is in an intermediate phase between a thin crescent and a half moon.
When mars is just reappearing from behind the bright limb of the moon, it might look like a thick, skewed, ruby ring in the sky, (a lot of gold of the thick crescent moon and the small ruby which is Mars) which should be interesting to see, she said.
Some members of the amateur astronomers association of Delhi will be going to different monuments in the capital placing themselves a little to the east of these monuments, zooming in on the moon, and then capturing this intriguing celestial event against the monumental heritage of Delhi.
Some of the members from the planetarium will be at the Jantar Mantar, using the Jai Prakas instrument of the observatory, to measure the changing angle between the moon and mars, following the reappearance of mars.
She said, “While a Lunar Occultation of solar system objects is a reasonably frequent event and not very exciting in terms of possible new observations — just the viewing of a Lunar Occultation of mars would be quite an interesting experience. Simply because mars is reasonably bright and can be easily seen with the naked eyes, as it is going behind the moon — absolutely no equipment will be needed to view such an event — provided it takes place when the sun is below the horizon. Well, for all of India, that is the case — the event happens just after sunset. However, the Northern and western parts of the country will be in evening twilight, when mars disappears behind the moon.”