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Moon, Venus Pair Up, Play Hide-and-seek

The moon and Venus came closer, formed a pair and played hide-and-seek Monday evening in a relatively rare astronomical phenomenon, much to the delight of astronomers and stargazers.

As the cloud blanket gave way to an azure sky, people - gazing at it from open fields, parks and from top of their houses - had a breathtaking view of the celestial spectacle.

Experts of the Nehru Planetarium here, assisted by over a dozen amateur astronomers, explained the planetary movement to those gathered at Jantar Mantar, the 18th century astronomical observatory in the heart of the capital.

'Though the lunar occultation is not a rarest of the rare event yet it's beautiful,' said Nehru Planetarium director R. Rathnasree.

Elaborating on the phenomenon, Rathnasree said: 'A lunar occultation happens when a celestial body appears to have moved behind the moon. Such events happen often but in most cases the star being occulted may be very faint. When bright stars or planets like Venus are occulted by the moon the event can be seen with the naked eyes.'

The event was last seen in November 2004.

Both the bright objects were seemingly close to each other and the moon was seen approaching Venus as the evening progressed. After 9.35 p.m., the moon moved in front of Venus hiding it behind its shadow.

'It was a breathtaking scene. I had never seen such a beautiful pairing so far. It was visible to naked eyes,' Harish Sarangi, a visitor at Jantar Mantar, told IANS.


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