Moon Sees Red

   On Saturday March 21st the very thin 1.67 day old waxing crescent will be within 2o from the ‘Red Planet’ Mars. This will be a nice close conjunction between the Moon and Mars for most observers. However from parts of Russia, Kazakhstan, northern Greenland, Canada, and Alaska this will be seen as an occultation – when the Moon passes in front of a more distant celestial object, in this case the planet Mars. The two will be close enough such that both will fit within the field of view binoculars.

waxing-crescent-moom   This could be one of those opportunities to see a very young Moon, not a record youngest but nonetheless, worth trying to see. The record for a naked-eye sighting of the youngest waxing crescent Moon is 15 hours and 32 minutes, and with an optical aid 11 hours and 40 minutes.

   On the side, so to speak, use binoculars or a low-power eyepiece and look at the unlit edge and along the cusps to see some of the higher peaks sparkling in sunset while their lower parts are still in shadow. Because of the low angle of the Sun relative to the Moon the higher portions of crater rims and lunar mountains are in sunlight while their respective lower portions are still in shadow. The peaks look like they are not connected to the Moon as you can see in the lower left of this picture of a 2-3 day old waxing crescent Moon.

Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

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