Mars to Disappear Tuesday in ‘Rare’ Lunar Occultation

In a trick worthy of a 1980s David Copperfield spectacle, Mars is expected to completely vanish on Tuesday.

The disappearing act will be the result of a lunar occultation, a phenomenon that occurs when Earth, the moon and another planet align, astronomers say. On Tuesday morning, that planet will be Mars, which will be hidden from view by the moon. “A lunar occultation involving a planet is a rare event,” says AccuWeather astronomer Dave Samuhel. “There are only a few per decade as seen from any given spot on the globe.”

For residents of the U.S., the lunar occultation will occur around sunrise, experts say. While that means people living in the western half of the country will get to see the event just before the sun comes up, those living in the eastern half won’t get such a good view — because it will happen just after sunrise, the daylight will make the occultation more difficult to see, astronomers say.