Stargazing: Mars overtakes Spica

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Since ending its backward or retrograde motion in May, Mars has moved about 15 degrees easterly through Virgo and will meet up again with Spica Sunday evening. If you recall, the pair was only about 4 degrees apart in February before Mars started its retrograde motion.

Start looking for Mars and Saturn Sunday evening in the southwestern sky around 10:15 p.m. The pair will be only about 1.3 degrees apart and sit about 25 degrees above the horizon. The Red Planet will be slightly brighter as it sits to the north of Spica. Mars will continue its eastward trek through the zodiac and head for Saturn in Libra. The duo will pair up on Aug. 22 when the two sit within 3 degrees of each other.

You can use your hand to roughly measure sky distances in degrees. The width of your little finger held out at arm's length to the horizon roughly measures about 1 degree of the sky. The width of your clenched fist measures about 10 degrees.


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