Moon set to block out three planets and the star Regulus in rare 'lunar occultation'

Published September 18, 2017

The Moon will align with three planets and one of the brightest stars visible from Earth tonight in a rare spectacle called lunar occultation.

The phenomenon occurs once every 28 years, meaning stargazers will be out in force to observe it.

Astronomers call this uncommon feast for the eyes an "occultation".

Alignments with more than one planet are fairly regular, but it is unusual for so many celestial bodies to be involved in this way.

Over the space of 24 hours, the moon will dance with Venus, Regulus, from the Leo constellation, Mercury and finally Mars.

It already passed Venus and Regulus during the early hours of this morning.

Those in Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia will get the best view this evening.

If you want to watch it unfold in real-time but can't see it in the sky, you can check out the International Occultation Timing Association (IOTA) website.

It has all the details on when the next occultation will be visible in your region.

The next European show will be the moon's alignment with the Taurus constellation on 5 November.

The lucky few who caught the beginning of today's occultation have started posting snaps on social media.

Gilbert Vancell, a photographer based in Malta, posted a picture of Venus, Regulus and the moon aligned over Italy.

He wrote: "Venus and a crescent Moon over Valletta earlier this morning.

"The star above the Moon is Regulus, which is part of constellation Leo"

There's plenty of moon spectacles coming up to excite the amateur moongazer.

October's harvest full moon, which is also known as the Blood Moon, once guided hunters ahead of the lean winter.

This year its pale light will guide those stumbling into cabs after Thursday after-work drinks, falling on October 5 and reaching its brightest at 7.40pm.

But will it top the "rectangular moon" sighting that sparked bonkers alien conspiracy theories?

This story originally appeared in The Sun.

URL

http://www.foxnews.com/science/2017/09/18/moon-set-to-block-out-three-planets-and-star-regulus-in-rare-lunar-occultation.html