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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 2°01' of each other. The Moon will be 3 days old.

From Fairfield, the pair will be difficult to observe as they will appear no higher than 13° above the horizon. They will become visible around 18:24 (EDT) as the dusk sky fades, 13° above your south-western horizon. They will then sink towards the horizon, setting 1 hour and 59 minutes after the Sun at 20:05.

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 -10.6; and Mars will be at mag 1.2. Both objects will lie in the constellation Ophiuchus.

They will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

At around the same time, the pair 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 pair at the moment of closest approach will be as follows:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude Angular Size
The Moon 16h24m40s -20°33' Ophiuchus -10.6 32'56"9
Mars 16h24m10s -22°35' Ophiuchus 1.2 4"6

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0. The pair will be at an angular separation of 42° from the Sun, which is in Virgo at this time of year.

The sky on 18 October 2012
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

3-day old moon
Waxing Crescent


3 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 09:12 14:04 18:55
Venus 03:57 10:21 16:45
Moon 10:58 15:44 20:30
Mars 10:50 15:28 20:06
Jupiter 20:34 04:04 11:29
Saturn 07:35 13:03 18:32
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

05 Mar 2012  –  Mars at perigee
24 Jan 2013  –  Mars at perihelion
17 Apr 2013  –  Mars at solar conjunction
04 Jun 2013  –  Mars at apogee

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