June 17, 2005

Jupiter and moon occultation

It was quite a sight. I just got off the ferry on Waiheke Island when the moon slid over Jupiter and made it invisible for over an hour. Called an occultation, it's apparently quite rare - every 50 years or so - so I was glad there were no clouds and so everyone could see it. No binoculars or telescope needed unless you wanted to see some of Jupiter's moons disappear one by one too. It was quite eerie to see the planet suddenly extinguished by the dark side of the moon.
Several commuters were gazing up, some keeping an eye on the moon while on the ferry (one advantage of being on the harbour in the pitch dark). One said, in response to an ignorant comment that Jupiter would go in front of the moon, we'd be in big trouble if that happened!

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