Astronomical highlights for the week of March 15; illustration prepared by Amy Jill Pazur, Buhl Planetarium & Observatory.
By Dan Malerbo, Buhl Planetarium & Observatory
As Mars closes in on Saturn this month, the gap between them has shrunk to only 12 degrees. This will permit the two “morning stars” to form an eye-catching triangle with Scorpius’ brightest star Antares.
Look for Mars and Saturn in Scorpius this week, 30 degrees above the southern horizon, one hour before sunrise. The Red Planet will sit about 9 degrees above and to the right of reddish Antares, while Saturn is positioned 9 degrees to the upper left of Antares.
Mars will not be able to pass Saturn until August, because both planets will begin a backward or retrograde motion in April.
Learn more about the planets this weekend as the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh and the staff of Carnegie Science Center team up to celebrate Space Out Astronomy Weekend. Check out the latest and greatest telescopes, hear the hottest astronomical news from guest speakers and get a close-up look at moon rocks and meteorites. Hands-on activities are geared for all ages and interest levels. Information: www.carnegiesciencecenter.org.
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