Mumbai: Saturday evening, the Mumbaikars were treated to a celestial spectacle, the occultation of the moon on Mars. NASA says occultation is a phenomenon when an object passes in front of another that is smaller. Space geeks Mumbai, which focuses on space and astronomy, captured the drama by attaching a mobile camera to an eight-inch telescope and streamed it live on its YouTube channel. Chintamani Pai, co-founder of Space Geeks, said in mumbai, Mars passed behind the moon at 5:31 p.m. and reappeared as a red dot in the night sky at 7:19 p.m.
He explained that the occultation takes place “due to the periodic movement of the moon around the Earth, as well as of the Earth and Mars around the sun”. This usually takes place twice a year. The occultation was mainly over some Asian countries covering much of India.
While most star-struck people watched the event on YouTube at home, few tried to watch it directly. The moon completely covered Mars for about 90 minutes. Pai said that sometimes occultation can impact communications, with these spacecraft orbiting Mars or having landed on the Red Planet.
The event comes as the moon and Mars gain public attention due to two major space missions; NASA’s Artermis program aims to land the first woman and man in the south pole region of the moon by 2024, and NASA’s Perseverance rover with the Ingenuity helicopter that landed on the red planet February 18 and 19.