Wednesday's near occultation of Mars by the Moon

by Casey Fukuda

What a sight to see the moon rise this evening with Mars in a near occultation. You would think the great obliterator would mute Mars. Not the case. Mars' bright red disk shown easily as the 2nd brightest object in the night sky. Peter Santangeli quickly swung James Turley's TV 76 in the direction of the Moon. I think I was one of the lucky few that was treated to Moon breaking over the low hills south of the Montebello parking lot.

Mars' red disk was already above the horizon. The moon, to Mars' lower right, shined brightly, half above the crest of the hills, minimally obscured by a light cloud that just so happened to be near the horizon at the time. And a tree's branches on the hilltop partially framing it's left limb. What a photograph that would have made. I'll not soon forget that moment. No doubt the best moon rise I have ever seen, ever.

I'm wondering if the Earth's fragile plate tectonics can handle the additive combination of the Moon and Mars' gravitational alignment pulling just a little harder tonight. I'll be watching for out of the ordinary earthquake activity somewhere in the world in the next 24 to 48 hours.