The final occultation of Uranus

A series of disappearances of Uranus beyond the lunar disk, which began in the autumn of last year, is coming to an end. The final occultation of this planet, visible from the territory of Ukraine, will be observed on the night of January 1 to 2. However, you can see it only in the north of the Sumy and Chernihiv regions.

In Chernihiv, the disappearance of Uranus behind the dark edge of the lunar disk will begin at about 1:12 a.m. GMT+2 and will last more than a minute, as the Moon will move towards the planet “tangentially”. Uranus will remain completely closed for only 4 minutes, after which its southern “edge” will appear from behind the edge of our natural moon – again unlit. Opening the planet’s disk will also take more than a minute. For areas lying to the north, this time will be shorter, but the total period during which the ice giant will “hide” from observers may be noticeably longer.

The position of Uranus and the Moon at 1:13 a.m. GMT+2 for Chernihiv according to the StarryNight program

From beginning to end, in a dark sky, this occultation will be visible only in the north of Europe (including Ireland and Great Britain without its extreme southern part), in Iceland and Greenland. Along the southern border of the visibility zone there will be a band about 10 km wide, for observers in which Uranus will hide behind the lunar disk only partially. It will pass through the territory of Ukraine to the south of Chernihiv, as well as through the cities of Konotop and Vorozhba. When observing in this band, it is necessary to take into account the irregularities of the Moon’s relief passing “against the background” of the planet.

The relief of the lunar edge, which will cover Uranus on the night of January 1 to 2, 2023. Source: IOTA

As it is already clear, this phenomenon is interesting enough to try to see it in the presence of a clear sky (unfortunately, due to the curfew, the possibilities of night movements are now severely limited). It is better to observe it with telescopes with a lens diameter of at least 80 mm and magnification of at least a hundred times. The next occultation of Uranus from the territory of Ukraine will be visible in almost 7 years — in November 2029.

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