Moon and Mars conjunction this weekend – watch red planet ‘swing by Moon’ in stunning lunar spectacle
THE MOON and Mars will make a close approach to one another this weekend in a rare celestial get together.
Stargazers in the US and UK should be able to spot the dazzling event with the naked eye in the early hours of Sunday morning.
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The coming together, known to astronomers as a conjunction, will peak at 05:47 BST (00:47 ET), according to stargazing site InTheSky.org.
The popular page makes precise predictions about the positions of the planets using public data from Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
During Sunday's showcase, the waxing crescent moon will swing about two degrees to the south of Mars in the sky.
The Red Planet will resemble a bright star.
If you're not an earlier riser or it's too bright to see the conjunction from your location then there's also a chance to catch them on Saturday evening.
This is advisable for stargazers in the UK.
"From the south of England, the pair will become visible around 21:13 (BST) as the dusk sky fades, 29° above your western horizon," InTheSky reports.
"They will then sink towards the horizon, setting 3 hours and 56 minutes after the Sun at 00:45."
Up north and in Scotland, they'll become visible roughly half an hour later, at 21:45 BST.
The Moon will be at mag -10.6, and Mars at mag 1.7, both in the constellation Gemini.
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The pair will be too widely separated to be viewed with a telescope.
However, they should be visible with the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.
Conjunctions of the Moon and Mars are relatively rare, but not unheard of. They typically occur a few times a year.
Mars remains particularly bright in the night sky after reaching opposition in October last year.
That's the point where the planet is closest to Earth and more visible than at other times in the year. Mars reaches opposition roughly every 26 months.
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Are you a seasoned stargazer or just getting started? Let us know in the comments!
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