The Moon makes a close encounter of the martian kind

By | Published: October 17, 2018 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
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.