Stargazing: Mars overtakes Saturn

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Since ending its backward or retrograde motion in May, Mars has moved about 40 degrees easterly through Virgo and will meet up and pass Saturn this weekend.

Start looking for Mars and Saturn tonight in the southwestern sky at 9:15. The pair will be about 5 degrees apart and sit about 20 degrees above the horizon in Libra. The two planets will be about the same brightness. However, Mars will have a faint amber color and sit below and to the right of the ring world. Mars will continue to move closer to Saturn this week and sit about 3.5 degrees below the ring world by Friday night. Come Sunday evening, Mars will have passed Saturn and be positioned to the lower left of the planet.

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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