How to See How Mars and the Moon Match up This Weekend
If you’re used to having a lot to see in space on weekends this summer, don’t worry – there is a lot to see tonight. Last weekend, we watched a live NASA feed of the SpaceX crew return to Earth . This weekend we have the opportunity to see Mars and the Moon align and rise together. Here’s what you need to know.
How to observe the alignment of the Moon and Mars
As Forbes Senior Fellow Jamie Carter explains , in October Mars is currently heading for opposition. Opposition is the point in the planet’s orbit when it comes closest to Earth, which means it is more visible than at any other time of the year. But we don’t have to wait until October to get a decent look at the Red Planet: Carter says it is already “noticeably bigger and brighter every night.”
It also means that Mars rises earlier every night, and this weekend it will be in the sky until midnight, next to the waning moon with 65% illumination . (This simply means that 65% of the moon will be visible, compared to 100% during a full moon.) This is known as “conjunction” – an event where two celestial bodies appear to be passing close to each other.
Today’s connection will be most noticeable in North America around 4 a.m. ET (which is, technically Sunday morning). But if it’s after you go to bed, you can also try to catch a glimpse of the moonrise alignment . First, use this lunar calculator to find out what time the moon rises in your area. For example, the moonrise in New York tonight will be at 10:50 pm. If you look just north of the Moon, you can probably fly to Mars at this time too. It will be brighter than any of the stars.