Keep your eye on the eastern sky before dawn on Wednesday (June 22) to see the crescent moon approach Mars as it continues its tour of the morning planets.
“The moon’s pretty crescent will take up position a palm’s width to the right of Mars’ reddish dot.” Writes Chris Vaughan, amateur astronomer with SkySafari Software who oversees Space.com’s Night Sky calendar. “Bright Jupiter will shine off to their upper right (or celestial west).”
The pair will make for an interesting stargazing target as they will appear close enough to share the same field of view in a pair of binoculars. They will rise above the eastern horizon around 1:56 am EDT (0556 GMT). Observers in the Southern Ocean region will also be able to see the moon occult Mars around 18:00 GMT according to Vaughan.
Related: The brightest planets in June’s night sky: How to see them (and when)
The exact time of the event varies depending on your specific location, so you’ll want to check out a skywatching app like SkySafari or software like Starry Night to confirm the local time to look up. Our picks for the best stargazing apps may help you with your planning.
Mars is the fourth planet from the sun and perhaps one of the most distinctive planets in the night sky due to its famous red hue. It gets its color from the oxidization, or rust, of iron-rich minerals in its regolith — the loose dust and rock covering its surface.
Hoping to capture a good photo of the moon as it approaches Mars? Our guide on how to photograph the moon has some helpful tips. If you’re looking for a camera, here’s our overview of the best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography. As always, our guides for the best telescopes and best binoculars can help you prepare for the next great skywatching event.
The moon and mars getting cosy isn’t the only skywatching event to look out for this month. Throughout June, a rare “planet parade” will be visible in the predawn sky as all five naked-eye planets line up in their orbital order from the sun. From left to right in the southeastern sky, you’ll be able to spot Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn all in a row. (Mercury, usually hidden by the sun’s glare, will become easier to spot as the month matures.)
The best opportunity to see this spectacle may come on June 24, as Mercury should rise about an hour before the sun, according to a press release from Sky&Telescope.
Throughout June, the moon will continue to the journey past the morning planets, embarking on a planetary “meet and greet.” After Mars, the next stop on the tour is Venus on June 26, then finally Mercury on June 27.
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