Close Approach of the Moon and Mars
This is the perfect week in April to view our natural satellite in all of its splendor. After last Friday’s New Moon phase, the young crescent moon will be waxing fuller and climbing the western sky after sunset.
As the moon waxes fuller every evening, the sun is rising over the lunar surface. All along the terminator, the pole-to-pole boundary that separates the lit and darkened hemispheres, sunlight is striking the moon at a very shallow angle – casting long, deep, black shadows from every elevated part of the lunar terrain. That includes crater rims and central peaks, mountain chains, faults, and even lava flows. The sights change hour by hour and night by night as the sun rises, and are perfect for viewing in binoculars and backyard telescopes – all at a convenient time of the evening!
The Moon and Mars will make a close approach this week. In the western sky on the evening of Monday, April 8, the waxing crescent moon will land 7 degrees below reddish Mars. On Tuesday night, the moon will hop to sit to the upper left of Mars, between the horns of Taurus (the Bull). At the same time, look for the bright, orange star Aldebaran sitting 7 degrees to the left of Mars and the bright little Pleiades Cluster a palm's width to the lower right of Mars.
Close approach of the Moon and Mars will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.