Sometimes the actual sky is so compelling, we’re forced to simply look out the window. Such is the case on early Saturday morning (April 7) when the Moon will meet Saturn and Mars. And you don’t need dark, unpolluted conditions to see it; city skies will do just fine.
Where to Look
We’re talking an hour before dawn. Figure 5:30 or so. Happily it’s Saturday morning. No school, maybe no work that day. Perhaps you’re still up from Friday night revelries. Maybe you’re an insomniac. If not, set the alarm.
Simply look out the window in the direction of the impending sunrise. Find the Moon.
It’s the 3rd quarter Moon, which looks like a perfect Half Moon, but lit up on the left. Just below it is a little star, and this is Saturn. Just slightly farther from the Moon is a much brighter, orange star and this is Mars.
It’s a conjunction—and a great one, at that! This is the year of cool conjunctions.
We had the Moon meet Venus and Mercury on March 18 and sort-of meet it again the next night. I was happy to read several of your comments—that you’d already been watching Mercury and Venus for over a week beforehand.
That conjunction took place in the convenient evening sky. This time, the action is pre-dawn. But, once again, you need no charts, telescope, or sky knowledge. There’s the Moon, and the orange “star” next to it is Mars. The less-bright one is Saturn. Easy. Use a telescope on Saturn if you like; the ringed planet will look amazing.
More Sky Highlights
There’s more. All three celestial bodies hover just above the “teapot” of Sagittarius, which marks the center of our galaxy. It’s a special direction in space.
And there’s still more. Look far to the right of the Moon and you’ll see the fabulous constellation of Scorpius, with its tail scraping the southern horizon like a vacuum cleaner.
And just to the right of Scorpius, technically in Libra, is brilliant Jupiter, the very brightest “star” that’s out at that hour.
So yes, it’s all there. The three bright “superior” planets Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. The center of the galaxy. The sky’s best constellation (although, okay, some would give that honor to Orion). And the half-Moon that few get to see, since it’s at its highest at dawn so that most people sleep through it.
The Moon clustered alongside two bright planets is enough of a cool conjunction by itself. But here you have all those bonuses. The ancient Greeks, the Maya, the desert-dwelling Arab observers all would have made this “Topic A” at the office water cooler.
The only down side: will you really look out a south-facing window at 5:30 AM? Let’s find out!