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Close approach of the Moon and Mars

Dominic Ford, Editor
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The sky at

The Moon and Mars will make a close approach, passing within 0°08' of each other. The Moon will be 3 days old.

From Cambridge, the pair will be difficult to observe as they will appear no higher than 14° above the horizon. They will become visible around 19:03 (EST) as the dusk sky fades, 14° above your south-western horizon. They will then sink towards the horizon, setting 1 hour and 58 minutes after the Sun at 20:43.

Begin typing the name of a town near to you, and then select the town from the list of options which appear below.

The Moon will be at mag -10.9, and Mars at mag 1.2, both in the constellation Libra.

The pair will be close enough to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will also be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

At around the same time, the two objects will also share the same right ascension – called a conjunction.

A graph of the angular separation between the Moon and Mars around the time of closest approach is available here.

The positions of the two objects at the moment of closest approach will be as follows:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude Angular Size
The Moon 15h00m20s -17°58' Libra -10.9 32'37"6
Mars 15h00m30s -17°50' Libra 1.2 4"9

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0. The pair will be at an angular separation of 50° from the Sun, which is in Virgo at this time of year.

The sky on 19 September 2012
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

3-day old moon
Waxing Crescent


3 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 07:07 13:06 19:06
Venus 02:50 09:54 16:58
Moon 10:50 15:45 20:41
Mars 10:53 15:48 20:43
Jupiter 22:15 05:48 13:17
Saturn 09:04 14:35 20:06
All times shown in EDT.


The circumstances of this event were computed using the DE405 planetary ephemeris published by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

This event was automatically generated by searching the ephemeris for planetary alignments which are of interest to amateur astronomers, and the text above was generated based on an estimate of your location.

Related news

03 Mar 2012  –  Mars at opposition
08 Apr 2014  –  Mars at opposition
22 May 2016  –  Mars at opposition
27 Jul 2018  –  Mars at opposition

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