Beauty Without Borders

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Encounter of Mars and the Moon

Date and Time of the Campaign
April 16 12:00 UTC – April 18 12:00 UTC (48 hours)

Skywatchers around the world get set for an eye-catching close encounter between Mars and the Moon occurring on April 17 (Universal Time). In some part of Southeast Asia, Mars will even glide behind the disk of the Moon in the evening sky. Watch below the livestream from Thailand begin April 17 at 13:18 UTC and end at 14:16 UTC in Chiang Mai, Thailand and from Mumbai, India (pending COVID permission from health authorities).

You may have noticed that the Red Planet is quite a bit fainter now, compared to last year October, when it was in opposition - at its closest to Earth.  That’s because Mars is now twice as far as the Sun. However, it is still very much visible to the naked eye.

This close encounter with the Moon will make it easy for even the novice skywatcher to find Mars in the evening sky. And if we share the images taken at different geographical locations across the world, we can discover and visibly demonstrate how the relative apparent positions of Mars and the Moon change with time, and how they look different depending on the latitude of the observation site.

Enjoy the beauty of this sky show with friends all over the world!

Livestream of Lunar Occultation of Mars from The National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand

Tips on photographing Mars and the Moon in the same frame
If you take wide-angle photos, hold the camera so that the lower edge of the image is parallel to the horizon.

The auto-focus mechanism of your camera may not work in the darkness, so you should set your camera to manual mode. Set the camera focus to infinity.

The ISO number and the exposure time should be set properly. Figure 1 shows an example of a photo taken with a smartphone on March 18. ISO number and exposure time were set to 3200 and 1/8 second, respectively. Here you can find Mars above the Moon. However, the Moon looks saturated (overexposure), so it would have been better to have chosen a smaller ISO number or shorter exposure time. If ISO numbers or exposure times are too small, Mars will disappear from the photo.

Figure 1

Figures 2 to 4 show photos taken with a compact camera with different ISO numbers. Their exposure times were all 1/2 second. A tripod was used to avoid camera shake. The ISO numbers of Figure 2, 3, and 4 are 3200, 1600, and 800, respectively. The smaller the ISO number, the clearer the shape of the moon, but the darker Mars. Which do you think is the best shot?

Figure 2

Figure 3

Figure 4

The best ISO and exposure time depends on camera and zoom condition. So, you must try several sets of ISO numbers and exposure times to obtain a good photo.

Even if you are not satisfied with your photo, don’t worry. Enjoy this space show and keep records and memories of your experiences.

Livestream of Lunar Occultation of Mars from The National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand

When can I see Mars and the Moon?
Both worlds can be seen together for a few hours after your local sunset.

Where in the sky will I see Mars and the Moon during the campaign?
In the western sky in the evening. Mars is wandering in the constellation Taurus, but it may be easier to find Mars north of Orion (right of Orion). On April 16, Mars is seen above the Moon. On April 17, Mars will be seen close to the Moon for skywatchers in  Asia, and is below the Moon for observers in Europe, Africa, and Americas.

Northern Hemisphere  (New York, 9 pm)

Southern Hemisphere  (Sydney 6 pm)

How will they be seen?

About one fourth of the Moon will appear to be illuminated around April 17. Mars has a magnitude of 1.5, a boundary of 1st magnitude and 2nd magnitude. So, the Moon will be much brighter than Mars.

How can I participate this campaign?
Watch Mars and the Moon with your naked eyes. Post your impressions in SNS (social media) using our hashtag #BeautyWithoutBorders.

We encourage you to take photos of Mars and the Moon in the same frame with your smartphone or digital camera. You may take wide-angle photos of them with the horizon or with trees and buildings. You may also take narrow-angle zoomed photo through a telescope or without telescope. If your photo session is successful, please post your photo using our dedicated webform on AWB’s website.


Remember to keep safe

Follow all local health regulations regarding COVID-19 when photographing in public areas. If you take photos from a window or a balcony, do not lean out of the window or the edge of the balcony.

tad__logo-600.png'Night Sky Map
customized to your town or city is a wonderful resource that can help you get the most out of Global Astronomy Month.