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Moon parties with stars and planets


Andrew Fazekas, astronomer
November 18, 2011 — What's in the the night sky this week?


The orange colour of the planet Mars will be clearly evident to the naked eye this week (courtesy: NASA)
The orange colour of the planet Mars will be clearly evident to the naked eye this week (courtesy: NASA)

Over the next few mornings, skywatchers will have the Moon act as convenient guidepost in tracking down some famous celestial characters.

On November 19, at dawn the crescent Moon will form a pretty trio with two star like objects just above it in the eastern sky.

The orange colour of the planet Mars will be clearly evident to the naked eye, despite its distance of 225 million km from Earth.

The distinctive colour is imprinted by sunlight reflecting off the iron-oxide rich sand dunes that cover the planet.

Next to Mars will be Regulus, the lead star of the constellation Leo, the lion, sitting at 76 light years away.

(Courtesy: Starry Night Software)
(Courtesy: Starry Night Software)

By November 21st and 22nd, again at dawn the Moon will have moved closer to the eastern horizon and will join up with two other starlikeobjects, planet Saturn and Spica, the lead star of the constellation Virgo.

While these objects may look close together they are in fact separated by hundreds of trillions of kilometres from each other.

While the ringed world is a respoectable 1.5 billion km away, the star beside isa whopping 260 light years distant.

For more details, visit www.thenightskyguy.com

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