Stargazing: Moon to pass celestial trio

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Before the waxing moon completes one-quarter of its journey around Earth by this time next week, our closest celestial neighbor will pass Spica and Mars and be in position to pass Saturn.

The trio of Spica, Mars and Saturn are lined up in a straight line above the southwestern horizon. Over the past month, Mars has moved eastward through Virgo and now sits 10 degrees to the left of Virgo's brightest star Spica and 10 degrees to the right of Saturn. The celestial trio is also shining at about the same brightness, with Spica a little fainter than the two planets.

Friday evening, look for the 5-day-old waxing crescent moon about 7 degrees to the right of Spica and 12 degrees above the west-southwestern horizon at 10 p.m. The waxing crescent will then slide past Spica and sit about 5 degrees to the right of Mars by Saturday evening. On Sunday evening, the first quarter moon will sit about 5 degrees to the right of Saturn.

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