The Moon in conjunction with Venus and Jupiter, with the Very Large Telescope in the foreground. Image © Y. Beletsky, ESO, 2009.

Close approach of the Moon and Mars

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 at14:14 EST(70 days ago)
19:14 UTC

Dominic Ford, Editor
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The sky at

The Moon and Mars will make a close approach, passing within 3°56' of each other. The Moon will be 25 days old.

From Ashburn (click to change), the pair will be visible in the dawn sky, rising at 03:17 (EST) – 4 hours and 4 minutes before the Sun – and reach an altitude of 33° above the south-eastern horizon before fading from view as dawn breaks at around 07:01.

The Moon will be at mag -10.7, and Mars at mag 1.6, both in the constellation Virgo.

The pair 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 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 14h07m50s -07°40' Virgo -10.7 30'01"9
Mars 14h02m40s -11°24' Virgo 1.6 4"4

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0. The pair will be at an angular separation of 49° from the Sun, which is in Ophiuchus at this time of year.

The sky on 13 December 2017
Sunrise 07:19
Sunset 16:46
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

25-day old moon
Age of Moon
25 days

All times shown in EST.
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 07:07 11:57 16:47
Venus 06:50 11:35 16:21
Moon 02:54 08:36 14:18
Mars 03:16 08:42 14:07
Jupiter 04:11 09:24 14:38
Saturn 07:50 12:35 17:20


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.

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22 May 2016, 07:10 EDT  –  Mars at opposition
27 Jul 2018, 01:07 EDT  –  Mars at opposition
13 Oct 2020, 19:19 EDT  –  Mars at opposition
08 Dec 2022, 00:35 EST  –  Mars at opposition

Image credit

The Moon in conjunction with Venus and Jupiter, with the Very Large Telescope in the foreground. Image © Y. Beletsky, ESO, 2009.




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