These 4 celestial events are all taking place tonight

Wednesday will be an exciting night for astronomers around the world as four celestial events coincide to give 2022 the proper send-off.

The day will end with the earliest sunset of the year, which occurs due to Earth’s tilt, and roughly two weeks before the winter solstice. The last full moon of 2022 will also skim through the sky tonight and temporarily block Mars from view, known as an occultation. In addition to these three occurrences, Mars will also be at its closest approach since 2020 – making the red planet the largest and brightness we’ve seen in about two years.

On Wednesday night, the sun will set at around 5:15 p.m. EST and bring upon the last full moon, known as a Cold Moon because of the “long, cold nights” that winter brings, according to NASA, citing the Farmers’ Almanac. The almanac also calls it a Frost Moon and Winter Moon, and if you live in Europe you know it as an Oak Moon.

The Cold Moon, joined by the dazzling red planet, will rise together and eventually graze past each other. Only parts of North America, Europe, and the Northern tip of Africa will be able to see the occultation as the Moon entirely blocks Mars, said NASA. Those living on the southeast and east coast of the U.S. will only see the moon “just graze past Mars.”

This map shows where the occultation of Mars will be visible. via Sky & Telescope.

When Mars will disappear behind the moon near you

At 10:21 P.M. EST, Mars will begin to go behind the Moon and disappear, all in about one second. Don’t blink! At 10:52 P.M. EST, Mars will emerge from behind the bottom right of the Moon.

Here are some quick local viewing times:

Mars DisappearsMars Reappears
Chicago9:10 P.M. CST10:04 P.M. CST
Dallas8:53 P.M. CST9:27 P.M. CST
Dayton10:22 P.M. EST10:56 P.M. EST
Denver7:44 P.M. MST8:48 P.M. MST
Des Moines8:59 P.M. CST9:59 P.M. CST
Las Vegas6:34 P.M. PST7:35 P.M PST
Los Angeles6:30 P.M. PST7:30 P.M. PST
Phoenix7:32 P.M. MST8:30 P.M. MST
Seattle6:51 P.M. PST7:50 P.M. PST
Great Britain3:21 A.M. BST3:52 A.M. BST
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