The Moon makes a close encounter of the martian kind

By | Published: October 17, 2018
Mars and the Moon share the sky
Image by Jake Parks using StarDome.
The waxing gibbous Moon crosses into Capricornus this evening, where it has a magnificent encounter with magnitude –0.9 Mars.

Once twilight fades away, the pretty pair stands some 30° above the southern horizon with Mars 6° to the Moon’s left. The two edge closer as the evening progresses.

Unfortunately, North American observers won’t see their actual conjunction, which occurs at 9 a.m. EDT tomorrow when our satellite passes 2° due north of the planet.

By the time darkness falls tomorrow evening, a slightly fatter Moon appears 6° to Mars’ left. A telescope shows several subtle surface features on the Red Planet’s 13″-diameter disk.

The Moon reaches apogee, the farthest point in its orbit around Earth, at 3:16 p.m. EDT. It then lies 251,175 miles (404,227 kilometers) from Earth’s center.