The Full Harvest Moon Dances with Mars in the Sky

( Witness the Full Harvest Moon and its spectacular conjunction with Mars accompanied by the occultation of the Red Planet in South America. )

The Full Harvest Moon

The Full Harvest Moon will grace the sky on October 1, 2020, at 5:05 p.m. EDT (21:05 GMT). This time the Full Moon coincides with apogee, the point in the Moon’s orbit farthest from Earth. When a Full Moon occurs around apogee, it’s called a Micromoon and may appear a little bit smaller than usual. As the Sun passes through the constellation Virgo during this month, the October Full Moons always shine opposite it, among the stars of Aquarius and Pisces.

The conjunction of the Moon and Mars

Last week the Moon visited the brilliant gas giants of the Solar System, Jupiter and Saturn. This week our natural satellite is going to join Mars in the night sky. The Moon and the Red Planet will meet on October 2, 2020, at 11:25 p.m. EDT (or on October 3 at 03:25 GMT) in the constellation Pisces, shining at a magnitude of -12.5 and -2.5, respectively.

Lunar occultation of Mars

Observers from South America can witness one more spectacular astronomical event — the lunar occultation of Mars on October 3, 2020, at 00:00 EDT (04:00 GMT). Lunar occultations happen when the Moon passes in front of a celestial body (typically, a star, a planet, or an asteroid) and blocks it from our view. This month, the lunar occultation of Mars will be visible from southern and southeastern South America, most of western Antarctica, the Ascension Islands, and southwestern Africa. In other regions, the Moon won’t pass in front of Mars at any time or will be below the horizon at the time of the occultation.

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