Close Approach of the Moon and Mars
Observers will have a nice opportunity to view the red planet on the night of December 22 - 23, 2019. The moon and Mars will make a close approach, passing within 3°20′ of each other. Here are some observing tips.
The very slim moon will rise on Sunday at about 3:50 am local time and will be positioned about a fist’s width above (or 9° to the celestial northwest) of Mars in the east-southeastern pre-dawn sky. The nearest approach of the moon and Mars can be observed in the dawn hours of December 23. The slim crescent moon will be positioned to the lower left (or 5.5 degrees to the celestial northeast) of reddish Mars. The moon will be only 10% illuminated, so it will help you see Mars, as the moon won’t obscure the view. Mars will shine at magnitude 1.6, the moon at magnitude -10.3. Both objects will be situated in the constellation of Libra. The duo will make a pretty sight in binoculars until just before sunrise.
Red-tinted Mars is lurking in the eastern pre-dawn sky. It will rise at about 4:45 am local time and remain visible until dawn. The bright star sitting to the upper right of Mars is the double star named Zubenelgenubi in Libra (the Scales). From now until October, 2020, Mars will continually grow in brightness – and will increase in apparent size when viewed in telescopes.
Check the stargazing app Star Walk 2 for the rise and set times for celestial objects and their position in the sky above you.
Clear skies and happy hunting!