This week offers multiple opportunities to get a great look at Mars thanks to several livestreams of Red Planet astronomical events.

see mars at opposition pass behind the moon this week for free online
An illustration of the night sky on Dec. 07 showing the full Cold Moon occulting Mars. (Image credit: Sky Safari Astronomy)

This week offers multiple opportunities to get a great look at the Red Planet.

On Wednesday (Dec. 7), the full moon will be in close proximity to a bright Mars during an event known as a lunar occultation. And on Thursday (Dec. 8), Mars will be at opposition, meaning that in Earth’s skies, it will be found directly opposite the sun. These events also happen to coincide with Mars being close to perigee (its closest point to Earth), which occurred on Nov. 30. 

The perfect storm of astronomical events means that this is a wonderful week to watch Mars in the night sky, appearing larger and brighter than usual and making itself easy to spot next to a full Cold Moon. And even if you have cloudy skies or can’t make it outside, you’re still in luck: There are plenty of opportunities to see Mars at its best this week thanks to several free online livestreams.

How to see Mars in person this week

For many parts of North America, Europe and some parts of North Africa, the lunar occultation will be visible in the night sky on Dec. 7 and Dec. 8. 

The spectacle begins roughly an hour after sunset in the Taurus constellation on Dec. 7 for North American skywatchers as the full moon and Mars move close together (in Europe, the event will happen just before sunrise on Dec. 8). Depending on one’s location, the Red Planet will then disappear behind the moon before reappearing an hour later.

Sky and Telescope has put together a guide on when and where you can see Mars (opens in new tab)disappear behind the moon this week during lunar occultation.

Griffith Observatory livestream of the lunar occultation of Mars

On Wednesday (Dec. 7), the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California will host a free online livestream (opens in new tab) of the lunar occultation of Mars. The broadcast will begin at 9:00 p.m. EST (0200 GMT on Dec. 8), weather permitting. Mars will disappear behind the moon at 9:31 p.m. EST (0231 GMT) and reappear one hour later. 

The observatory will also upload a time-lapse recording of the event on Thursday (Dec. 8) at 11:00 a.m. EST (1600 GMT).

McDonald Observatory livestream of Mars at opposition

The McDonald Observatory at the University of Texas at Austin, in conjunction with the Lowell Observatory in Arizona, will host a livestream of Mars at opposition. The broadcast begins on Thursday (Dec. 8) at 9:00 p.m. EST (0200 GMT on Dec. 9) and can be found on the McDonald Observatory’s YouTube channel (opens in new tab).

Hosts from both observatories will provide commentary during the event that will include discussions of Martian geology and history as well as spaceflight missions to the Red Planet. If weather permits, the livestream will include live views of Mars at opposition from telescopes at both observatory sites.

The Virtual Telescope Project livestream of the moon occulting Mars at opposition

The Virtual Telescope Project (opens in new tab) will host a free livestream of the moon occulting Mars at opposition. The broadcast will begin at 10:00 p.m. EST on Thursday (0300 GMT on Dec. 9) and can be found on the project’s YouTube channel (opens in new tab).

What does it mean when Mars is at opposition?

When astronomers say that a planet is at opposition, it means that the planet, Earth, and the sun are all in a straight line, with Earth in the middle. This arrangement means that the planet is literally opposite the sun, hence the term “opposition,” making the planet appear brightly lit from our vantage point on Earth.

When the Red Planet is in opposition, it is much brighter than usual and therefore much easier to see in the night sky. This event only happens every 26 months, and the planet’s elliptical orbit means during some oppositions Mars is closer to Earth than others. 

During this week’s opposition, Mars will be closer to Earth than it will be until 2033. The Royal Astronomical Society has put together a great explainer (opens in new tab) on the event, including the video below.

What is a lunar occultation of Mars?

The word “occult” means to conceal or hide from view; when astronomers refer to an occultation, they mean an event in which one celestial object passes in front of another from an observer’s perspective, hiding the object behind it. In the case of this week’s lunar occultation of Mars, it means that from Earth, the moon will appear to conceal or “cover up” the Red Planet. For many viewers, Mars will disappear behind the moon for roughly an hour before reemerging into view. 

There are enough occultations throughout any given year that there is an International Occultation Timing Association (opens in new tab) which provides detailed information such as exact locations and times of other occultations.

The Griffith Observatory has published a video explainer (opens in new tab) of the event, found below.

Whether you’re new to skywatching or have been it at for years, be sure not to miss our guides for the best binoculars and the best telescopes to view the occultation of Mars and other incredible things in the night sky. For capturing the best Mars or moon pictures you can, check out our recommendations for the best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography. 

Editor’s Note: If you snap a great photo of either Mars at opposition or the lunar occultation and would like to share it with Space.com’s readers, send your photo(s), comments, and your name and location to spacephotos@space.com. 

TECH NEWS RELATED

OPPO to walk in Samsung’s footsteps, develop its own smartphone processors

Apple, Huawei, and Samsung were the only smartphone brands that had their own mobile processors. Recently, Google started developing its own smartphone chipsets in partnership with Samsung’s System LSI division. While LG and Xiaomi did some work in the area, they never shipped mass-market products with their in-house processors. Now, ...

View more: OPPO to walk in Samsung’s footsteps, develop its own smartphone processors

Oppo Reno 8 review

A solid but uninspiring mid-ranger

View more: Oppo Reno 8 review

Oppo Reno 10 Pro+ to debut new design language

Oppo took years to change the design of the Oppo Reno series, but we finally saw a change with the Oppo Reno 8 series. After years of sticking with the same design of the Oppo Reno4, the company decided to change the look of its phones. In a world of ...

View more: Oppo Reno 10 Pro+ to debut new design language

Oppo Reno 10 Pro Plus might get a new camera module layout & upgraded display panel: Read on to know more

Tech giant Oppo recently launched its flagship Oppo Reno 9 Series in China. The series has 3 smartphones- Oppo Reno 9, Oppo Reno 9 Pro, and Oppo Reno 9 Pro+. While the brand is gearing up to launch the Reno 9 Series in India soon, the buzz around next ...

View more: Oppo Reno 10 Pro Plus might get a new camera module layout & upgraded display panel: Read on to know more

IC design houses cautious about Android smartphone shipments in 2023

With Samsung Electronics likely to adjust downward its smartphone sales goal for 2023, Oppo, Vivo and other China-based brand vendors are also expected to see their Android smartphone shipments disappoint next year, according to sources at Taiwan-based IC design houses. Samsung has already slashed orders for its Galaxy A-series ...

View more: IC design houses cautious about Android smartphone shipments in 2023

Oppo Find N2 Flip Global Spotted on FCC & Bluetooth SIG

After its Chinese release, the Oppo Find N2 series is inching closer to its global launch. It is evident thanks to the many certifications that it has gained recently including Bluetooth SIG and FCC among others. The Oppo Find N2 Flip recently made its appearance on the certification sites ...

View more: Oppo Find N2 Flip Global Spotted on FCC & Bluetooth SIG

Oppo Find N2 Flip global variant could launch pretty soon

Oppo dropped the Find N2 series in an event in China pretty soon consisting of Oppo Find N2 and Find N2 Flip. Now it is being said that Oppo is preparing to launch the Oppo find N2 Flip in the global markets too. The exact launch date of the ...

View more: Oppo Find N2 Flip global variant could launch pretty soon

OPPO K10 5G Starts Android 13 Public Beta Recruitment

The new Oppo Android skin based on Android 13, ColorOS 13.0 is already here. In order to meet the needs of more users for early adopters, OPPO K10 5G ColorOS 13.0 upgrade public beta version user recruitment is now open. The OPPO K10 uses a 6.59-inch 2412×1080 LCD screen with a ...

View more: OPPO K10 5G Starts Android 13 Public Beta Recruitment

After Samsung and OPPO, Huawei announces a cross patent deal with Nokia

Madison Square Garden uses facial recognition against legal opponent

OPPO phones will have better Bluetooth performance than Samsung’s

Samsung’s smartphone revenue witnesses a dip in Q3 2022

Microsoft sued by Call of Duty gamers opposing Activision merger

Oppo promises 4 OS and 5 years of security updates

OPPO will offer four Android updates to 2023 flagship smartphones

After OnePlus, Now Oppo Promises 4 Years of Software Updates

Samsung just got more competition in the software update game

OPPO to invest ~RM6.35 billion into OnePlus in new strategic partnership

After Samsung, OnePlus and OPPO are optimizing costs by working together

Oppo Find X6: what we want to see

OTHER TECH NEWS

Top Car News Car News