Bosh, Amanda S. Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Last reviewed:December 2019
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The temporary blocking from view of one celestial body by another. The occulting body is the one closer to the observer; it may be a planet, a moon, a ring system, or another body, usually in the solar system. The occulted body is smaller in apparent, projected size and is usually a distant star, although it can also be a spacecraft radio signal, as in the case of the Voyager spacecraft radio occultations at the outer planets, or another solar system body. Examples of occultations are that of a star by a planet, a lunar occultation of a star and an occultation by Pluto of its satellite Charon. Although a solar eclipse is not usually thought of in these terms, this event is actually an occultation of the Sun by the Moon. See also: Planet; Satellite (astronomy); Solar system
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