Late Wednesday night the planet Mars and the gibbous moon appear together as a close pair. The two rise in the southeast a few hours after sunset. This is an easy opportunity to see Mars. Use the moon as your guide.
The planet has brightened considerably in the last year and is two months away from opposition. There is no mistaking its reddish sapphire color when compared to the brilliant white moon.
A third bright celestial object resides nearby amid the field of faint stars. It is the bright blueish-white star Spica, the principal star in Virgo.
If weather prevents you from seeing the show Wednesday night, there will be another chance an hour later on Thursday night. The moon will have moved farther away from Mars, but the sight is no less impressive.
The sighting of Mars is an opportunity to familiarize yourself with its placement in our night sky. While the moon will move away on in the nights ahead, Mars stays pretty much in the same field of stars from now on, as it continues to brighten.
The only significant difference is timing. In the weeks ahead Mars will progressively rise earlier in the evening. By April, The planet rises in the east as the sun sets in the west.
The brightest planet in the sky is Venus, appearing high in the southeast before sunrise. Venus is impressive, as bright as an airplane coming in for a landing. The planet is about as far south as it gets, residing in the southernmost zodiacal constellation Sagittarius.
Look higher in the southeastern sky for the ringed-planet Saturn. Saturn is two constellations away and resides in Libra. Saturn has nowhere near the brilliance of Venus, a much closer planet. Venus is 35 million miles away. Saturn is 930 million miles away, or 26 times farther away from us than Venus.
In the weeks ahead Mars will progressively rise earlier in the evening. By April, Mars will rise in the east as the sun sets in the west.
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Water temperature in Edgartown harbor: 33º F.