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Moon and star Spica low in west after sunset August 28

2014-aug-28-spica-moon-night-sky-chart

Tonight for August 28, 2014

Look westward as soon as darkness falls on August 28, 2014 to catch the slender waxing crescent moon fairly close the horizon. That bright star close to the moon is Spica, the brightest in the constellation Virgo the Maiden. Don’t delay, though, when looking of the moon and Spica, especially if you live at northerly latitudes, for the twosome will follow the sun beneath the horizon by early evening.

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Look for the moon to be closer to Spica tomorrow, at nightfall on August 29. The green line represents the ecliptic.

Look for the moon to be closer to Spica tomorrow, at nightfall on August 29. The green line represents the ecliptic.

You’ll certainly have more time this evening to view the planets Saturn and Mars, and the star Antares, the brightest in the constellation Scorpius the Scorpion. Look for these three colorful gems in the southwest sky this evening. Whereas Saturn exhibits a golden hue, both Mars and Antares exhibit a ruddy complexion. No wonder the Greek word Antares means “like Mars.”

Northerly latitudes can still spot three bright beauties - the star Antares, plus the planet Mars and Saturn - lighting up the southwest sky at nightfall and early evening

Northerly latitudes can still spot three bright beauties – the star Antares, plus the planets Mars and Saturn – lighting up the southwest sky at nightfall and early evening

Practiced sky watchers often locate the constellation Libra the Scales by using the 1st-magnitude stars Spica and Antares. In any year, Libra is found between these two signpost stars. But right now, the planets Saturn and Mars are lighting up Libra, making this constellation all the easier to find in the August 2014 evening sky.

In any year, practiced sky watchers locate the rather faint constellation Libra the Scales between the two 1st-magnitude stars, Antares and Spica. Image credit: All the Sky

In any year, practiced sky watchers locate the rather faint constellation Libra the Scales between the two 1st-magnitude stars, Antares and Spica. Image credit: All the Sky

Whereas Saturn stays in front of Libra for the rest of this year, Mars will move onward in the days and weeks ahead. By this time next month, Mars will have paired up with the star Antares.

Bottom line: As darkness falls on August 28, watch for the moon and Spica to light up the constellation Virgo, while the planets Saturn and Mars illuminate the constellation Libra the Scales.

The lunar calendars are almost here! They’ll help you the moon phases throughout the year.