In eight days, as 2013 comes to an end, stargazers will discover that the current lunar cycle also will draw to a close. This week, the waning moon will pass Mars and Saturn before it's lost in the sun's glare and the old moon becomes a new moon and the lunar cycles begins anew on Jan. 1.
Look for the last quarter moon Wednesday morning about one hour before sunrise high in the southern sky. The moon will sit about 6 degrees to the right of Mars. By Saturday, the waning moon will have descended closer to the southeastern horizon and rest about 5 degrees to the right of Saturn.
Mars returns to the evening sky in the spring next year. It will be at its brightest, --1.5 magnitude, and closest to Earth, 57 million miles, on April 14. Saturn returns to the evening sky in May. The ring world will be at its brightest when it goes into opposition with the sun on May 10.