Stargazing: Moon passes Mars, Spica and Saturn

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The waxing moon has almost completed one-quarter of its journey around Earth since the new moon Thursday. Our closest celestial neighbor is now positioned to pass Spica and our two "evening stars," Mars and Saturn, as it travels through Virgo this week.

The trio of Mars, Spica and Saturn currently form an attractive triangle in the west-southwestern evening sky. Over the past month, Mars has moved about 15 degrees eastward through Virgo and now sits within 11 degrees of Virgo's brightest star, Spica. Saturn sits about 5 degrees above Spica. The celestial trio is also shining at about the same brightness, with Spica a little fainter than the two planets.

Tuesday evening, look for the moon to sit about 4 degrees below and to the left of Mars, 15 degrees above the west-southwestern horizon at 9:45 p.m. The first quarter moon will then slide past Spica and Saturn and sit about 4 degrees to the left of Virgo's brightest star on Wednesday evening.

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