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Moon occults Uranus on October 12

Complex chart with green ecliptic line, Mars, Aldebaran, and moon next to Uranus.
During the first hour after midnight (CDT) on October 12, the bright gibbous moon lies very close to dim Uranus. You need binoculars to spot the faint planet. Plus, in regions of the United States and Canada, and other locations (see below), the moon occults Uranus, or covers the planet. Also, close by is the delicate star cluster known as the Pleiades. Chart via John Jardine Goss/ EarthSky.

Moon occults Uranus overnight October 11-12

Want to watch the moon hide a planet? Depending on where you live, you can see the moon occult – or pass in front of – Uranus on the evening of October 11-12, 2022. And if you don’t live in the area where the occultation is visible, you can still see the moon pass within a whisper of the 7th planet. On the sky chart above, you’ll see that the bright waning gibbous moon is within 0.8 degrees of Uranus at 7 UTC on October 12, 2022. Uranus is borderline visible to the unaided eye under a dark sky. It’s shining at magnitude +5.7. So, the bright moon will wash out most of its light. Therefore, you’ll need binoculars to find the dim planet.

Map of Earth with wide blue and red swath across most of northwest North America.
View larger. | This map shows the location on Earth where observers can see the moon slip in front of and cover Uranus. You can see the disappearance of Uranus from areas shown in red and its reappearance in areas shown in blue. The dotted lines indicate where the event is above the horizon but may not be visible due to a bright sky or the event being too close to the horizon. Image via Dominic Ford/ In-The-Sky.org. Used with permission.

Lunar occultations are only visible from certain areas

Lunar occultations only occur over a narrow path of the Earth. Why? Because the moon is closer to the Earth than the planets in our solar system or more distant stars. So, the position of the moon in the sky, relative to planets or stars, changes from one place to another.

If you’re in the right location on Earth, you can watch the moon occult (cover over) Uranus overnight on October 11-12. The moon and Uranus are in the constellation of Aries the Ram. If you are observing from certain places on Earth, the moon will pass in front of Uranus. Those places include northwest Mexico, most of Canada and the western U.S. including Alaska, for example.

From these locations, Uranus will disappear behind the brightly illuminated side of the moon, making it challenging to see. However, the planet will reappear along the dark limb (edge) of the moon. Therefore, the reappearance will be easier to see than the disappearance.

Visit lunar-occultations.com to see locations and timing of the moon occultation of Uranus.

Using the moon to find Uranus

Even if you can’t see the occultation from your location, this offers an excellent opportunity to find the planet Uranus. Maybe you’ve never seen the 7th planet before, or simply wish to observe it again. With the moon guiding your way, you can spot the elusive giant planet. While Uranus is visible to the unaided eye in a dark sky, you’ll need binoculars or telescope to find it in moonlight. Uranus is shining at +5.7 magnitude.

Be sure to enjoy bright Mars nearby. It’s racing toward opposition on December 8, 2022. In fact, the moon will occult Mars that day as well.

Also, the moon, always in motion in front of the constellations of the zodiac, occults Uranus again on November 8, 2022, and December 5, 2022. Check lunar-occultations.com for bright planet occultations by the moon in 2022 and see if these – or other – upcoming occultations are visible from your location.

Bottom line: The moon occults Uranus from some locations after midnight on October 12, 2022. No matter where you live, the gibbous moon can help you locate Uranus that night.

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