Enjoy the Brilliant Duo of the Moon and Mars
Astronomy enthusiasts will have a chance to enjoy two spectacular events these next few evenings. First, on its journey across the sky, the Moon will meet Mars, shining brightly in the vicinity of Gemini’s stars. Second, the elusive Mercury will reach its greatest eastern elongation, which is the most favorable moment for observing the little planet. Read on to get some tips on how to witness these events.
The Moon meets Mars
On May 16, 2021, at 12:47 a.m. EDT (04:47 GMT), the conjunction of the 5-days-old Moon and the reddish planet Mars will occur. At this moment, the heavenly bodies will share the same right ascension, lying at a distance of 1°28′ from each other. The Moon will shine at a magnitude of -10.6, and Mars will be at a magnitude of 1.7. You'll see the astronomical duo among the stars of the constellation Gemini.
Start your observations at dusk. Just a few days ago, the Moon met Mercury and Venus in the evening sky. These bright planets still remain in the constellation Taurus. Now, brilliant Venus is about 36 times brighter than Mercury and 163 times brighter than Mars. However, the faintest planet sets later: Mars stays out for a few hours after nightfall. Although the Red Planet is modestly-bright now, it is still relatively easy to spot in a dark sky.
Wonder what time you can see the Moon and Mars tonight from your location? The stargazing guide Star Walk 2 will help you easily and quickly determine the best viewing time and find the brilliant duo in the sky above you. With Star Walk 2, you can also view beautiful constellations, deep space objects and satellites, learn curious facts about celestial bodies, and keep abreast of the noteworthy events from the world of astronomy.
Mercury at greatest eastern elongation
On May 17, at 04:14 a.m. EDT (08:14 GMT), one more noteworthy astronomical event will happen: the speedy little planet Mercury will reach its greatest eastern elongation. It is the most favorable moment for observation of Mercury as the elusive planet reaches its greatest separation from the Sun, as seen from the Earth. As Mercury is best observed during the evening hours at the eastern elongation, it is also called the evening one.
Now Mercury is adorning the western part of the sky, appearing above dazzling Venus at dusk. The planet will be shining brightly at a magnitude of 0.3. The trick is to start the observation in time: if you look for Mercury too soon, the planet will still be outshined by the evening twilight, but if you start searching too late, Mercury will have disappeared beneath the horizon. The best viewing time might be around 60 to 90 minutes after sunset.
We hope that our article will help you make your observations fascinating and exciting. Share this article with your friends if you liked it, and follow us on social media to never miss bright astronomical events.
Wishing you clear skies and happy observations!