Saturn Lunar Occultation Starparty

When: Thursday 25th April, 8.00 pm onwards

Where: Venue to be advised

We are planning an evening at a venue in the Wellington area to view this relatively rare event. As well as having telescopes out, we are looking at having a presentation, documentaries on a screen, and a general social gathering as the excitement builds. Tea and coffee will be provided. Bring some snacks to share.



On the morning of Friday 26th of April we will have the rare opportunity to witness Saturn being occulted by the Moon. It will disappear behind the bright limb of the moon first and then reappear from behind the dark limb approximately 70 minutes later. The mid-point of the disappearance is UT 12h 39m 11s. New Zealand Daylight Saving will have finished earlier in the month so this will be 12:39am NZST. Saturn’s rings will start to disappear first, beginning at 12h 38m 29s. The planet itself will start to disappear at 12h 38m 52s and completely disappear by 12h 39m 30s. The ring will have completely disappeared by 12h 39m 53s.

As I said above, the mid-point of the reappearance will be UT 13h 47m 23s, i.e. 1:47 am on Friday morning. The ring will start to reappear first at 13h 46m 37 and the planet at 13h 47m 02s. The planet will have completely reappeared by 13h 47m 44s and the last of the ring by 13h 48m 10s.

The event takes place at an altitude of 26° above the horizon so should be above the local horizon for most observers. I’ve included a map of the moon showing where Saturn will be against the moon’s limb when it disappears (dot # 1) and then reappears (dot #2). I’ve not managed to see one of these occultations myself yet (the weather has always defeated me) but I’ve heard it’s a spectacular sight and so I’ll be out again with fingers crossed at midnight. – Murray Forbes


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