Sunday, February 17, 2013

Occultation of Jupiter, Monday 18 February, 2013

Evening sky looking North-west as seen from Adelaide at 22:45 pm local daylight saving time on Monday February 18. This is just before the Moon covers Jupiter. The inset shows Jupiter's Moons at 10:48 ACST, just before Ganymede is covered by the Moon. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the times indicated in the table below.  Click to embiggen.A larger view of the same event simulated in Stellarium, just before Ganymede is occulted (covered) by the Moon at 10:48 ACST.

On the evening of Monday, February 18, the Moon will occult (cover) Jupiter in Southern Australia (everywhere else sees it very close).  It will be quite spectacular with Jupiter's Moons being covered by the dark side of the Moon just before Jupiter.

While the sight of Jupiter winking out behind the dark edge of the Moon will be spectacular to the unaided eye, this is far better seen in binoculars, or better in a small telescope.

As a bonus, many places will see the occultation of the 5th magnitude star Omega Tauri before the main event.


The event does occur around 11 pm or so (earlier in WA which has the best views again). It's pretty easy to see where it is happening (just look for the Moon). Note Ganymede disappears before Jupiter and the other Moons after.




PlaceDisappears Dark Limb Reappears Bright Limb
Adelaide23:00 ACDST23:37 ACDST
BrisbaneClose Approach-
CanberraGraze Nearby-
DarwinClose Approach-
Hobart23:21 AEDST00:13 (19th) AEDST
Melbourne23:33 AEDST00:10 (19th) AEDST
Perth19:39 AWST20:45 AWST
SydneyClose Approach-

More cities and towns  can be found at the IOTA site (UT times only).

At mid graze/occulation, the Moon will be quite low to the horizon, so if you are using a telescope, make sure it has a clear horizon and can travel down reasonably well. It is advisable to set up and practise on the Moon and Jupiter a day or so before the event, so you are familiar with your telescope set-up.

Set up at least half an hour ahead of time so that you can be sure everything is working well and you can watch the entire event comfortably (trying to focus your telescope on Jupiter moments before the occultation will cause a lot of unnecessary stress). Also, setting up early allows your eyes to adapt to the darkness.

If you are using binoculars, try leaning them on a fence or the back of a chair so that the don't wobble all over the place. Better yet, see if you can get a binocular mount, you won't regret it.

This is also an opportunity to see Jupiter in the daylight. Using the Moon as your guide, you should be easily able to see Jupiter with the unaided eye 15 minutes before Sunset, and 30 minutes before Sunset using binoculars. Make sure the Sun is hidden behind something big like a wall to avoid accidental exposure to the sun.

More posts on seeing planets in daylight (with hints and tricks), are here.

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