See moon, Mars, Antares – and maybe Jupiter – before sunrise | 1/18/2020 | Bruce McClure
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Before dawn on January 19, 20 and 21, 2020, look for the waning crescent moon in the neighborhood of the red planet Mars and a red star, Antares in the constellation Scorpius the Scorpion. If you wait until dawn breaks – possibly until both Mars and Antares disappear from the dome of sky – you might see another planet, too, bright Jupiter. See the chart below.

Mars is only modesty-bright right now; 1st-magnitude Antares is brighter. But Mars is getting brighter. It will reach Antares’ brightness by early March 2020. By the time that October 2020 comes rolling around, Mars will be a good 40 times brighter than it is now. In fact, in October 2020, Mars will become the 4th-brightest celestial body to light up the heavens, after the sun, moon and the planet Venus.

Name - Antares - Ant-Ares - Ares - Ares

The name Antares (Ant-Ares) means rival to Ares. Ares was the Greek name for the Roman war god Mars. And indeed Mars and Antares are rivals of sorts in our sky. Both the star and the planet look red, and Mars often gets brighter than Antares, as it will in 2020.

On January 19, 2020, note that the lit side of the waning crescent moon points right at Mars and Antares. On the following morning – January 20, 2020 – the view is even prettier. On that morning, the moon – in its eastward trek in front of the backdrop stars – will be swinging to the north of the planet Mars. Note that – between January 19 and 20 – the moon will have moved some 13 degrees or 26 moon diameters closer to Mars and Antares. This motion of the moon on our sky’s dome reflects the moon’s actual motion in orbit around Earth.

Moon - Trip - Front - Constellations

During the moon’s monthly trip in front of the constellations of the...
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