Stargazing: Moon passes Mars and Antares
Astronomical highlights for the coming week prepared by Amy Jill Lankey, Buhl Planetarium & Observatory.
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This week, look for the waxing crescent moon to pass through Libra, Scorpius and into Sagittarius before reaching its first quarter phase on Saturday evening, the first day of autumn. As you observe the moon, notice how it will pass two "red stars" as it travels through the zodiac.
The first "red star" the moon will encounter is actually the planet Mars. The 4-day-old crescent will sit about 2 degrees to the left of the faint Red Planet on Wednesday evening. The celestial duo will sit within 10 degrees of the southwestern horizon at 8:30 p.m.
By Thursday evening, the waxing crescent moon will have moved 12 degrees east along the ecliptic and sit within 7 degrees of Antares, a supergiant red star located in the heart of Scorpius. Antares is Greek for "rival of Mars." It is the 16th brightest star in the sky and shines a little brighter than Mars now that the Red Planet has faded dramatically since going into opposition last March.
First Published September 17, 2012 12:00 am