The twinkling of Christmas lights will provide enough of entertainment for Chicago-area residents in December, but some exciting cosmic phenomena may simply divert you from Earthbound displays.
A “lunar occultation” will occur on the night of December 7, according to the Adler Planetarium, and five planets may be visible to the naked eye around Christmastime.
According to planetarium officials, the “lunar occultation” will occur early in the evening on December 7.
According to experts, the planet Mars will be at its brightest for the entire year in the first week of December, and on the night of the full moon on December 7, it will be at its highest point in the sky in the last 15 months.
According to officials, as the full moon rises, Mars will actually go behind the moon shortly after 9 p.m. It will reappear on the other side of the moon about an hour later as it continues its trek through the night sky.
Astronomers call the phenomenon “lunar occultation,” which is akin to an eclipse. The phenomenon will only be visible at specific times and locations on Earth, and Chicago will be featured this time.
Mars was occulted earlier this year, but it only partially veiled the planet and was visible only in areas of Asia.
According to Adler astronomers, as many as five planets will be visible to the naked eye later this month. According to officials, four planets will emerge in the night sky near the waxing crescent moon on Christmas Day, December 25.
Mercury will be visible as a faint point in the southwest sky, while Venus will be visible closer to the horizon. Jupiter and Saturn will also be visible on the opposite side of the moon in the evening, while Mars will be closer to the northeastern region of the sky.
The key to seeing this particular show is to have a clean view of the southwestern sky about 45 minutes after sunset. This will allow spectators to see the four planets in the southern and southwestern hemispheres of the sky, as well as Mars in the northeastern hemisphere.
According to officials, this show will be seen during the last week of December.
Stargazers can learn more about the Adler Planetarium by visiting their website.
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