If you missed seeing the waxing crescent moon with the red planet Mars after sunset yesterday, try again after the sun sets this Sunday, January 13, 2013. The moon will feature a larger, brighter crescent than it did yesterday, so it should be much easier to spot. Moreover, today’s moon will appear higher up at sunset and stay out longer after dark.
Mars, on the other hand, probably won’t be any easier to find than it was yesterday. In fact, you may need binoculars to spot this world in the glow of evening twilight. If you live in North America, Mars lurks about 8o below the moon on January 13. At an arm length, the width of four fingers approximates 8o. Elsewhere – in Europe northern Africa, the Middle East and most of Asia – Mars appears a bit closer to the moon but to the moon’s lower left.
Incidentally, Mars shines at about the same brightness as the star Fomalhaut right now. Around the world, Fomalhaut is found nearly 30o (three fist-widths) from the Moon and Mars. At mid-northern latitudes, Fomalhaut lies to the left of these two worlds. At middle latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere, Fomalhaut shines directly above them. Midway between – at the equator – Fomalhaut appears to the upper left of the moon and Mars.
If you have binoculars handy, be sure to check out tonight’s moon, too. Take your sweet time, and travel all along the terminator – the shadow line dividing the lunar day and night. Sunlight and shadow magically intermingle to showcase wondrous three-dimensional views of the lunar terrain. While you’re at it, don’t forget to look on the nighttime side of the moon for the ashen glow of earthshine.
Once you get an eyeful of the moon and Mars, turn around and look in the opposite direction for the dazzling planet Jupiter, the brightest star-like object in the evening sky. It shines in front of the constellation Taurus the Bull, in between the star Aldebaran and the Pleiades star cluster.
Bottom line: The waxing crescent moon is back in the western twilight sky on January 13, 2013 as seen from around the globe. If you look carefully, you might be able to pick out the planet Mars nearby.moon and mars, waxing crescent moon, the red planet Mars <BR/>