The December 7 Mars/Moon Conjunction
By Chris Predom
As most of you know, from beginning the the year, using the Occult program an event was discovered that Mars would appear to graze the edge of the Moon in Northwest Connecticut. During this year’s Connecticut Star Party, Pete Kandifer gave us a interesting lecture on the Mars/Moon occultation that was to happen. It was during this time I made him aware of the graze through Connecticut’s Northwest section. I sent him the files. Together we worked on trying to find a site where we all could observe the event. A site was chosen. As the day approached, rain was our nemesis.
At 6 pm on December 7, I contacted Pete. Clouds and fog were all that he had up there, exactly what we had down here, so it was no-go on the trek up to our site. Looking for web transmissions of event, Rich Asarisi sent me two links. It so happens that on all the links I came across, everyone was simulating the event as they were clouded out. Around 9 pm I looked out and could just see the glow of the Moon through the clouds. As I said in my lunar eclipse write-up quite a while ago, I have observed things through the clouds. Out came the 8 inch f4.5 Coulter dob and the 17mm Televue plossyl, and I was observing. I sent texts to Rich and Pete that I was observing the Moon and Mars. Pete said he was still clouded out and could not see anything. As the Moon and Mars were going in and out of view and I had my Iphone, I decided to try taking pictures through the eyepiece (hand holding my Iphone to the eyepiece). A sample of these photos are shown below (note the Moon was covered in clouds and from pictures you can get a sense of what I observed). I did have a few minutes of no clouds and was able to snap a few hand held photos using my Coolpix digital camera. I would have loved to see the graze, but I was happy to see what I did of event, even if it was a miss in our area of Connecticut. Best of all, I have pictures to prove I saw event.
Later I found out Pete did have a small window to observe with binoculars, so he was able to see something of the event. Later on Youtube, I did find a video from Griffith Observatory of the occultation if folks would like to see event:
Remember it doesn’t hurt to look out and try to see an event like this through clouds. If you can see a hint of the Moon, an 8 inch or larger scope brings in enough light to see the Moon and some bright planets (if you know where to look in the sky).