Mars Passes Spica
Observers will have a good chance to see Mars as it passes the bright, white star Spica in the predawn sky this weekend. Here are some observing tips.
Reddish Mars is becoming nicely visible now in the eastern pre-dawn sky while it continues to climb away from the pre-dawn sun. From now until October, 2020, Mars will continuously grow in brightness in the sky, and in apparent size in telescopes.
When Mars rises at about 5:05 am local time, look for bright, white Spica, the brightest star in Virgo (the Maiden), sitting just a few finger widths to Mars’ lower right (or celestial south). By Sunday morning (November 10), Mars’ eastern orbital motion will carry the Red Planet closer to that star. Shining at magnitude 1.8, Mars will appear half as bright as the star in the sky. The 20.8 light-minutes-distant reddish planet and the 250 light-years-distant star will appear together in the field of view of binoculars.
Our comprehensible astronomy app Star Walk 2 will help you identify the best viewing time and the current position of celestial objects in the sky above you.