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Moon, Mercury, Mars on March 29

Tonight – March 29, 2017 – use the waxing crescent moon to find the planets Mercury and Mars. The slender lunar crescent beautifies your western sky first thing at dusk. You might even see the moon’s dark side illuminated in earthshine – sunlight that’s reflected from Earth and back to the nighttime side of the moon.

Watch for the waxing crescent moon to meet up with Mars on March 30 and the Pleiades star cluster on March 31. The green line depicts the ecliptic – Earth’s orbital plane projected onto the constellations of the zodiac.

As dusk deepens into darkness, look for Mercury and Mars to pop out in the vicinity of tonight’s moon. The sky charts in this post are designed for North America, so the placement of the moon, Mercury and Mars will vary, depending on where you live worldwide. But the moon and planets will be in the same vicinity of sky. Look first for the moon and then for nearby Mercury and Mars.

You may need binoculars to view Mercury, the solar system’s innermost planet. Mercury follows the sun beneath the horizon around nightfall at mid-northern latitudes. At temperate latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere, Mercury sets considerably before nightfall and may be difficult to catch, even with binoculars.

Click here to find an almanac telling you Mercury’s setting time in your sky.

The red planet Mars, though fainter than Mercury, will be easier to spot in the evening sky because this world stays out till after dark. Be sure to view Mars at nightfall or early evening, when it’s still fairly high up in the sky. It’ll set below your western horizon by early-to-mid evening, t which time you’ll see the king planet Jupiter in the southeast sky. See sky chart below.

Look for the planet Jupiter to rise into your southeast sky after dark. If you are blessed with a dark sky, seek out the constellation Corvus near Jupiter and Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo the Maiden.

This evening – March 29, 2017 – use the slender waxing crescent moon as your guide to the planets Mercury and Mars.

Once you see the moon, no matter where you live, let it guide you search for the two starlike objects in the moon’s vicinity, Mercury and Mars. You may need binoculars to spot Mercury

Bruce McClure

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