This weekend and early next week look for the Moon passing planets and star clusters in the evening sky.
The waxing Moon returns to the evening sky on Saturday night, March 21, a day and half after it eclipsed the Sun over the North Atlantic and Europe.
On Saturday, March 21 look for the thin crescent Moon very low in the west sitting just a degree (two Moon diameters) left of reddish and dim Mars.
The next night, Sunday, March 22, the Moon, now a wider crescent, shines three degrees (half a binocular field) left of brilliant Venus, for a beautiful close conjunction of the night sky’s two brightest objects. The photo ops abound!
This is one of the best Moon-Venus meet-ups of the current “evening star” apparition of Venus this winter and spring. Next month, for example, the Moon will sit six degrees away from Venus on April 21.
On Monday, March 23, the crescent Moon sits between Venus and its next destination, the bright star Aldebaran.
On Tuesday, March 24, the Moon, still a crescent, shines amid the stars of the Hyades star cluster near Aldebaran in Taurus, for a wonderful binocular scene. The more famous Pleiades star cluster is near by.
On all nights, you’ll see the night side of the Moon dimly illuminated by Earthshine, sunlight reflecting off the Earth and lighting up the dark side of the Moon.
Here’s a close-up of the March 24 scene, with the Moon in the V-shaped face of Taurus the bull that is marked by the widely scattered Hyades star cluster.
Please note: This diagram and the main chart above, are for western North America. From eastern North America, the Moon will be 2 to 4 Moon diameters lower in the sky for each of the dates indicated.
Clear skies and enjoy the Moon meet-ups in March!
– Alan, March 19, 2015 / © 2015 Alan Dyer / www.amazingsky.net