Find Mars, Watch It Move

| March 11, 2019 @ 8:20 am

This is a good week to get a sense of the Moon’s movement through the night sky. Step outside tonight before about 11 pm local time and find the waxing crescent moon in the west, to the right of the constellation Orion.

5 degrees below and to the right, about the width of 3 fingers on your outstretched hand is Mars. Up and slightly left about 15 degrees away is the bright star Aldebaran.??At just a quarter million miles away, the moon really zips through the sky night tonight.

Look again Tuesday night and things switch up a bit with the Moon 5 degrees from Aldebaran and 15 degrees from Mars. Continue watching throughout the week and you’ll see the Moon slip further up as moon rise and set slips earlier each day by a little more than 1 hour.

But everything up there is moving, just at very different rates.

Even Aldebaran, but at more than 66 light-years away its motion is noticeable only over many hundreds of years.

British astronomer Edmond Halley, of comet fame, Noticed that Sirius, Arcturus, and Aldebaran were not in quite the same location noted charts made by Greek astronomers more than 1600 years earlier

Continue watching Mars throughout March, at just 180 million miles away, it wanders its way through the sky, closing the gap between Aldebaran by about 5 degrees each week. By April 9, things literally come full circle as the Moon will join Mars and Aldebaran forming a right triangle separated 3 and 6 degrees

We might know a bit more about Aldebaran, when Pioneer 10, launched back in 1972, makes its closest approach to this red giant star in about 2 million years.

Category: ALL POSTS, Spacey Stuff

About the Author ()

Tony Rice is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador and the voice and brains behinds the weekly Astronomy Report on the WeatherBrains podcast. He grew up in Southern California where he watched the Space Shuttles being build and landed nearby and was hooked. Tony brings weather and space together to communicate the excitement of space exploration and promote a greater appreciation for Earth sciences.

Comments are closed.