Stargazing: Waning moon passes Mars and Saturn

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Before the year's first cycle of lunar phases comes to an end on Jan. 30, early risers can see the waning moon pass Mars and Saturn.

Look for Mars, Spica and the waning gibbous moon Thursday morning 90 minutes before sunrise. The Trio will sit about 40 degrees above the southern horizon. The moon will be located about 5 degrees to the lower left of Mars. By Saturday morning, the moon will have moved about 30 degrees through Virgo and into Libra and sit within one-half degree, or about the diameter of the full moon, of Saturn.

Mars is currently shining at .4 magnitude, but will brighten to -1.5 magnitude when it comes to within 57 million miles of the Earth in April. Saturn, currently shining at .55 magnitude, is a little brighter than Mars now. However, the ring world will not get as bright as Mars this spring. Saturn will only shine at .07 magnitude when it goes into opposition in May.

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