Animated GIF of the Moon near Mars and Saturn, Aug 1 thru Aug 5
7/25/2014 8:26 PM
Every so often the stars, planets and Moon make some lovely alignments in the sky. Despite appearing small and close together, they are often far enough away from one another than photographs do not do them justice. However, their proximity in the sky naked eye often makes for a lovely sight.
From August 1 through August 5 2014, the Moon travels near the ecliptic - that imaginary line in the sky along which the Sun appears to travel. Because the planets of the solar system are mostly along the same plane, so do the Moon and planets. This week, the waxing crescent Moon will first stop near the first magnitude star Spica in Virgo on August 1, then split the space between Spica and Mars the folowing night of August 2nd. The following night it will have passed Mars and have Mars to the west and Saturn to the east. On August 4 the Moon has leapfrogged Saturn and will be to its west, and the night after that, August 5, the Moon revolves to a spot just over the first magnitude star Antares.