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

Dominic Ford, Editor
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The sky at

The Moon and Mars will make a close approach, passing within a mere 31.4 arcminutes of each other. From some parts of the world, the Moon will pass in front of Mars, creating a lunar occultation. The Moon will be 11 days old.

From San Diego , the pair will be visible in the evening sky, becoming accessible around 17:11 (PST), 35° above your eastern horizon, as dusk fades to darkness. They will then reach their highest point in the sky at 21:18, 81° above your southern horizon. They will continue to be observable until around 03:44, when they sink below 7° above your north-western horizon.

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 -12.5; and Mars will be at mag -1.1. Both objects will lie in the constellation Taurus.

They will be a little too widely separated to fit comfortably 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 04h25m00s 23°58'N Taurus -12.5 29'51"5
Mars 04h24m20s 24°29'N Taurus -1.1 14"2

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0. The pair will be at an angular separation of 145° from the Sun, which is in Sagittarius at this time of year.

The sky on 3 Jan 2023

The sky on 3 January 2023
Sunrise
06:49
Sunset
16:54
Twilight ends
18:22
Twilight begins
05:21

11-day old moon
Waxing Gibbous

93%

11 days old

Planets
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 07:17 12:26 17:35
Venus 08:03 13:08 18:12
Moon 14:17 21:40 05:08
Mars 14:07 21:18 04:29
Jupiter 11:00 17:01 23:02
Saturn 09:13 14:36 19:58
All times shown in PST.

Source

The circumstances of this event were computed using the DE430 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

07 Dec 2022  –  Mars at opposition
12 Jan 2023  –  Mars ends retrograde motion
06 Dec 2024  –  Mars enters retrograde motion
12 Jan 2025  –  Mars at perigee

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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San Diego

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32.72°N
117.16°W
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