Moon sweeps past Mars January 11 to 13 | 1/11/2019 | Bruce McClure
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On January 11, 12 and 13, 2019, use the waxing crescent moon to find the red planet Mars. You’ll find both Mars and the moon in the evening sky, with the moon in a waxing crescent phase and Mars much fainter than it was six months ago, when it outshone all the stars, brighter than since 2003. Now, Mars is still shining as brightly as a 1st-magnitude star. It’ll be that bright “star” close to the moon on these evenings.

Of course, when we say the moon and Mars are close together, we mean they are close together on our sky’s dome. These two worlds are not particularly close together in space. When you see them, know that our moon lies about a quarter million miles (400,000 km) away, whereas Mars – a neighboring planet – lodges way beyond the moon, at about 500 times the moon’s distance.


What is an astronomical unit?

The moon appears large in Earth’s sky because it’s close to us, relative to Mars. Meanwhile, Mars’ diameter is roughly twice that of the moon, yet Mars’ surface area exceeds that of the moon by about 4 times. Still, to the eye, Mars appears starlike in our sky – like a point, not a disk – because it’s so much farther away than...
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