On any given night, our sky it peppered with the lights of stars and planets, often only discernable if you know what you’re looking at. Sometimes, there’s no mistaking that spec of light in the sky. Mars is nearly at closest approach to Earth this week, meaning it’s extra big and extra bright in the night sky. In fact, you can even notice the orange-red glow that helped Mars earn its moniker the “Red Planet.” All this with nothing more than the naked eye and a rough idea of which direction to look.

Wednesday night, a unique event adds some spice to the sky show. For a period of less than an hour, our Moon will “occult,” or block the view of Mars as the objects shift in the night sky. That speck of glowing red will briefly disappear, only to reemerge on the other side of the Moon.

This disappearing act will take place from 10:35 p.m. to 11:16 p.m. in the eastern sky. Both before and after this disappearance, observers will get to watch Mars and the Moon essentially kiss in the night sky. This event will be visible across much of the United States, minus the east and southeast coast.

Now for the bad news. All that cool stuff described above only counts if clouds cooperate. That’s where things get dicey for WNY. We’re likely still dealing with a mainly overcast sky Wednesday evening into Wednesday night. That doesn’t mean there won’t be some thinning or a few breaks in the overcast. But that’s our play with this event, needing a fair amount of patience and luck to be able to see the show. Factor this reality in if you start making plans to stake out the night in to see this show. If you give it a shot and happen to see it, consider buying a lottery ticket after you wake up Thursday morning. Good luck!