Skywatch: Use the moon to help you find Mars late this week

Skywatch: Use the moon to help you find Mars late this week

We’ll see a dark sky this week, which means that when skies clear out viewing should be decent. The reason for the dark sky is simple: a new moon arrives early in the week. On Monday at 4:04 p.m., the new moon will occur and without our satellite’s glare, that will mean that many more stars are visible in the night sky.

When the moon returns — if it looks smaller than usual — you can blame the lunar apogee for that. The moon’s orbit isn’t a perfect circle, it’s an ellipse. As a result, there are times when the moon is closer to the Earth and times when it’s farther away. The apogee is when the moon is at its farthest point in orbit from our planet. Normally the apogee isn’t a big deal, but at 252,622 miles away, this will be the farthest lunar apogee of 2019.

On Saturday night, you can use the moon to help you find the Red Planet. A waxing crescent moon will be just below Mars in the southwestern sky after sunset. If you have a telescope, use Mars to help you find the seventh planet from the sun. Uranus will be just above and left of Mars. Some say you can see Uranus with the naked eye, but I never have. Use some magnification to help you find it. Happy hunting!