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Moon, Mars, Saturn morning of March 1

In the predawn sky tomorrow – March 1, 2016 – you can use the moon to find the planets Mars and Saturn, plus the constellation Scorpius’ brightest star Antares.

There is a surefire way to distinguish the two planets before sunrise on the first day of March. The lit side of the waning moon points toward Saturn and the dark side in the direction of Mars.

Note the difference in color between these two worlds. Saturn appears golden whereas Mars exhibits a ruddy hue. If you have difficulty discerning color with the eye alone, try your luck with binoculars, if you have them.

Like Mars, the star Antares looks reddish. In fact, the name Antares means like Ares in the respect that Mars and its namesake star appear similar in color. Yet, planets tend to shine with a steadier light than do the twinkling stars.

So put this maxim to the test. See if Antares’ sparkling betrays it as a star.

Use the moon to find the planets Mars and Saturn, and the star Antares in late February and early March. Mars will eventually catch up with Saturn, to stage a conjunction of these two words on August 25, 2016. The green line depicts the ecliptic - the sun's pathin front of the constellations of the Zodiac.

Use the moon to find the planets Mars and Saturn, and the star Antares in late February and early March. Mars will eventually catch up with Saturn, to stage a conjunction of these two words on August 25, 2016. The green line depicts the ecliptic – the sun’s pathin front of the constellations of the Zodiac.

If you live south of the equator, or in the Southern Hemisphere, be mindful that the moon, Mars, Saturn and Antares will be shining quite high in your predawn/dawn sky. Stars sparkle less when high overhead than when closer to the horizon, so Antares may not shimmer to the degree that it does at more northerly latitudes.

No matter where you reside worldwide, however, let the moon be your guide to the planets Mars and Saturn, plus the red supergiant star Antares, on the morning of March 1.

Bruce McClure

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