Earthmoon occults planet Mars on daylight sky

Saturday May 10, 2008

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On Saturday May 10, 2008 the Earthmoon occults planet Mars on bright daylight sky. The occultations starts in northern Austria on southeast sky in an elevation of about 39 degree. In the region, called Woodquarter, this is a total occultation. The planet disappeares at 12h15 UTC on the dark moon limb and reappeares about 66 minutes later at 15h21 UTC on the bright moon limb. At this time the sun is in an elevation of 47 degrees over the southwest horizon and in a moon distance of 70 degrees.

The planet Mars is lit with 91% by the sun and appears as a disk. But because of the distance of 256 millions kilometers the disk of planet Mars is only 5.5 arcseconds in diameter. And so the brightness is also relative low with a value of only +1.3mag.

So this occultation can only be observed with the use of optical instruments. But with the use of optical instruments never look in the sun. The eye would be destroyed immediately.

The next occultation of planet Mars by the Earthmoon and observable in a similar manner will happen on March 21, 2040 in Austria. Some events in the years between will occur in very low elevations or to near to the sun.

Datatable of Mars occultation 2008 in northern Austria (all times in UTC)
Occultation prediction for Nonndorf_550, Austria
E. Longitude   15 14  8.4,  Latitude  48 47 13.5,  Alt.  550m;  Telescope dia 25cm;  dMag 0.0

       day  Time   P   Star  Sp  Mag  Mag    % Elon Sun  Moon   CA   PA  VA  AA Libration   A   B   RV   Cct   R.A. (J2000)  Dec
 y   m  d  h  m  s      No  D     v    r V  ill     Alt Alt Az   o    o   o   o   L    B   m/o m/o "/sec   o  h  m   s    o  m  s
08 May 10 12 15 42 D Mars        1.3  1.3   33+  70  55 39 101  67N  79 123  68 +7.3 -2.2 +0.8+1.9 .406   26  8 11 22.8  21 47 20
   Duration of planetary disk occultation: predicted time +/-6.6 secs
08 May 10 13 21  4 R Mars        1.3  1.3   33+  70  47 49 117 -59N 313 353 302 +7.2 -2.2 +1.3-0.6 .379  154  8 11 22.8  21 47 20
   Duration of planetary disk occultation: predicted time +/-7.1 secs
Table with precalculations prepared with Occult 4 from Dave Herald

The occultation of Planet Mars on the dark moon limb at 12:15 UTC
Start of occultation of Planet Mars at 12:15 UTC


The end of planet Mars occultation on bright moon limb at 13:21 UTC
End of occultation of Planet Mars at 13:21 UTC
Diagrams created with Guide 8 from Bill J Gray


Diagram of equipment setup
Diagram of equipment setup


Observation report

Date Observer Position - Nonndorf Observer 2008/05/10 48° 47´ 13.4" North (WGS84) Gerhard Dangl Object 15° 14´ 08.1" East (WGS84) 3830, Nonndorf 12 Planet Mars 556.8m (MSL), 601.2m (WGS84) AUSTRIA
TIMING OF EVENTS: 1. Contact - invisible (clouded) 2. Contact - invisible (clouded) 3. Contact - Planet disk first visible: 13:21:00.934 (+/- 20ms) 4. Contact - Planet disk total visible: 13:21:11.894 (+/- 20ms) TELESCOPE: Type: Newton Focal length: 1200mm + Powermate 2.5x = 3000mm FL (f/11.8) Aperture: 254 mm Magnification: video/primary focus/FOV 6.3'x5.5' (640x576, 0.59"x0.57" per pixel) Mount: Equatorial EQ6 with EQMOD Motor drive: Yes TIMING & RECORDING: Timekeeping: GPS 1PPS Garmin18 LVC + KIWI-OSD Sensor/Camera: WAT-120N, CCIR, 1/2" Sony CCD-Sensor ICX419ALL Mode of recording: It=20ms (50 Img/s), Video CCIR, AVI, YUY2, Huffyuv, Device of recording: Xpert V-Stream Videograbber USB2.0, Notebook Harddisk Time insertion: KIWI-OSD OBSERVING CONDITIONS: Atmospheric transparency: fair but interrupted by clouds Wind: 2-7m/s Objects image stability: fair but shaking wind Temperature: 290 Kelvin (+17 deg Celsius) ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Predictions with Occult 4 Wind was very strong for a mobil Newton system and caused some shaking images Clouds prevented recording of Planet disappearance Reappearance could be recorded through a hole in the clouds lasting only few seconds Clear glass filter for CCD protection and additional a Planet IR Pro 807nm filter for contrast enhancement and image stabilisation were used (both Astronomik) Video evaluation accomblished with VirtualDub1.7.8 3-D position and timing with Garmin GPS18 LVC receiving 09 satellites Horizontal dilution of precision 1.2, geoidal separation 44.4m

Video and images of Mars occultation on daylight sky - 2008/05/10

The reappearance of Mars on the bright moon limb - Video MPEG4 (1.8MB)

Still video images from reappearance
Still video image #1 (13:21:03 UTC)   Still video image #2 (13:21:10 UTC)
Still video image #3 (13:22:32 UTC)   Still video image #4 (13:24:33 UTC)
Still video image #5 (13:27:58 UTC)   Still video image #6 (13:29:01 UTC)
Images from the observation on the afternoon - captured in Nonndorf
The observation place with wind protection   The moon is visible only sometimes between clouds
The occultation starts in few minutes   The occultation start happens behind the clouds
The telescope with filter wheel and video camera   The notebook with light coverage and equipment cases
Telescope coverage because of farina from bloomy wood   During reappearance clear sky for few seconds
Image of Mars and Moon about 6 hours after the occultation
Mars and Moon on the evening after the occultation at 19:28 UTC
(Canon EOS 20D, 300mm)

© 2008 G. Dangl

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