This weekend it’s the turn of Mars, as the waning Moon passes close to the red planet. Three spacecraft are on their way to Mars right now, and it’s also a great time to admire it.
Mars is now creeping towards opposition in October, the point in its orbit when it’s closest to Earth, so as big and bright as it gets. It’s already getting visibly bigger and brighter with every passing night.
Mars is rising earlier each evening, and this weekend is now in the sky before midnight, with a 65% illuminated waning gibbous Moon in tow.
Stargazers call this event—when two celestial bodies appear to pass close to each other—a conjunction.
How to see Mars and the Moon in conjunction on Friday, August 7, 2020
Look to the east around midnight on Friday going into Saturday and you’ll easily find a waning gibbous Moon.
Only those in North America will see the closest conjunction, at around 4:00 a.m. EDT on the morning of Saturday, August 8.
You could even try to catch the Moon at moonrise—the most beautiful time to observe our satellite—by consulting this Moon calculator to get times for your exact location.
In doing so you’ll also witness a “Mars-rise.”
Just 0.8º north of the Moon will be Mars, shining at magnitude -1.3. That’s significantly brighter than any stars, so Mars will be obvious.
The conjunction of two of the night sky’s top sights isn’t that rare, but there are few more pleasing celestial sights to unaided naked eyes than a bright Moon passing a bright, red planet.
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.