If you’re up at morning dawn on September 2, the only two heavenly bodies that you’re likely to see are the waning crescent moon and the planet Jupiter. (See above chart.) After all, the moon and Jupiter rank as the brightest and second-brightest celestial objects, respectively, to light up the September 2013 morning sky.
Possibly, you’ll also see the third brightest celestial object – Sirius, the brightest star of the nighttime sky – in the glow of morning twilight. At mid-northern latitudes, Sirius is found rather low in the southeast sky at dawn.
But you’ll probably have to be up before dawn – or at least one and one-half hours before sunrise – to spot the red planet Mars by the waning crescent moon tomorrow (Monday, September 2). Jupiter outshines Mars by about 30 times.
It should be fairly easy to behold the constellation Gemini’s two brightest stars, Castor and Pollux, before dawn. As seen from mid-northern latitudes, these Gemini stars shine to the left of Jupiter, the brightest star-like object in the morning sky. The star Castor more or less makes a right angle with Jupiter and Mars, enabling you to star-hop to the red planet by way of Jupiter and Castor. If you can’t see Mars with the unaided eye, by all means try your luck with binoculars, if you have them.
While you’re at it, scope out the gorgeous Beehive star cluster with binoculars. This cluster and Mars will fit – or nearly fit – within the same binocular field of view on Monday, September 2. Watch as Mars heads closer to the Beehive cluster day by day, until the red planet goes right in front of the Beehive on the mornings of September 8 and 9. Think photo opportunity!
In the meantime, let the waning crescent moon and Jupiter help you to locate Mars and the Beehive star cluster before dawn on Monday, September 2.