Old Moon Meets Mars, Mercury and Spica
This weekend the moon will be in the eastern pre-dawn sky among the stars of Virgo (the Maiden) and will visit two planets. Here are some observing tips.
On Sunday morning, November 24, before dawn, look for the gorgeous slim crescent moon sitting only a few finger widths to the left (or celestial north) of dim, red-tinted Mars, while brighter Mercury will appear 9° (a fist’s diameter) below the moon and Mars. Mercury, Mars, and the bright, white star Spica will make a nice upright line in the sky from about 6 am local time to morning twilight for several days.
The swift innermost planet Mercury appears very low in the east-southeastern pre-dawn sky all week – becoming higher and easier to spot every morning. The best viewing time will be before 6:30 am local time. This morning apparition for Mercury will be a very good one for Northern Hemisphere observers, but a poor one for those viewing it from mid-southern latitudes.
Rising at about 5 am local time this week, reddish Mars is becoming nicely visible 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 when viewed in telescopes.
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