by Hazarry Ali Ahmad
Bandar Seri Begawan – People in Brunei Darussalam is set to witness a rare astronomical event when the Moon passes in front of the Venus causing the bright planet to temporarily disappear from the night sky on March 24, 2023.
During the lunar occultation, the Moon is perfectly aligned to pass in front of the brightest planet which is visible only from a limited part of the world.
The astronomical phenomenon will be visible from regions in South Africa, Indonesia, and South Asia including Brunei.
Currently, the evening planet Venus shines brightly at magnitude -4.0, which makes it easily visible to the unaided eyes in sky after sunset. In fact, it is the third brightest celestial body in the sky after the Sun and the Moon.
An hour after sunset, Venus will appear like a bright “star” just a few degrees away from the Moon, which offers an eye-catching view of the two celestial bodies in the evening skies.
Timings of Occultation
If weather permitting, stargazers in Brunei should be able to see the brilliant “evening star” (which is in fact Venus) approaching close the Moon just before the occultation.
According to the International Occultation Timing Association (IOTA), Venus disappears behind the Moon at 8.05 p.m. from Brunei Darussalam. As this occultation involves the 3 day-old waxing lunar crescent, Venus will hide behind the unilluminated side of the moon.
The planet will then re-emerge from behind the moon’s sunlit edge approximately 28 minutes later, at 8.33 p.m. From Brunei, the reappearance will occur at a low altitude of about 2 degrees, and a clear unobstructed view of West horizon is needed to sight the unique event.
In the past, occultations was used for scientific purposes such as refining the Moon’s profile (e.g. shape of the lunar limb) and its orbit properties.
The last disappearance act of Venus behind the moon happened during the daylight of May 27, 2022. The Moon-Venus occultation from Brunei will not happen again until 16 years, on May 27, 2039.