Bandar Seri Begawan – Given clear skies, stargazers in Brunei can watch the red planet Mars disappear behind the crescent moon on Saturday night, April 17, 2021.

Watch Mars disappear behind the moon on Saturday, April 17, 2021

The Moon will pass in front of Mars, creating a lunar occultation visible from only small region of central Asia including Brunei Darussalam.

An occultation is an astronomical phenomenon when one object is obscured by another object that passes between it and the observer.

Above: World Visibility map of Mars Occultation: The above map outlines the occultation viewing area of a narrow zone on Earth. (cyan=occultation at moonrise/moonset; red dotted=daytime occultation; blue=twilight occultation; white=nighttime occultation) Source: The International Occultation Timing Association
The celestial geometry of an occultation – the Earth, Moon and Mars are perfectly aligned on April 17, 2021.

The celestial spectacle will occur at exactly 9:29 p.m from Brunei when the Moon quickly covers Mars up.

Mars occultation simulation from Brunei Darussalam on Saturday, April 17, 2021

The bright planet Mars will slip behind the moon’s dark side and will be visible to the naked eyes. From Brunei, the Moon will be very low on the horizon during the event, and lunar gazer must be at location with unobstructed view of the Western sky.

Location of Mars immersion at the Moon’s dark limb on April 17, 2021

Occultation Rarity

Since the Moon is our nearest cosmic neighbor, it regularly passes in front of planets or bright stars in the sky. But occultations by the Moon and Mars from the same location on Earth is exceedingly a rare occurrence. It is often described as “perfect planet alignment” which is rare occurance.

During the eight millennium period 2000BC – 6000AD, somewhere on the Earth will experience a total of 118,243 occultations of the planets. In the case for Mars occultation, the average is about 2 occultations per year around the world.

Frequency distribution of each planet is being occulted over 8 millennium.

The Previous Mars occultation from Brunei happened in May 2008. The next similar occurrence in Brunei is set to take place 77 years later, on February 7, 2098.

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