Cosmic Display: The Moon and Mars Appear to Tango

Cosmic Display: The Moon and Mars Appear to Tango

In a world full of disheartening events, one wondrous cosmic display is set to take place Thursday morning that is sure to lift our spirits.

Just before sunrise on May 14, the moon will be entering its last quarter phase and appear ‘tangled’ with Mars.

Although the pair will appeared next to each together, Mars is 425 times further from Earth than its natural satellite that is at a distance of 247,000 miles.

The closest pass between Mars and the last quarter moon will happen around 10pm EST Wednesday, when both are still below the horizon – but will only be visible in the pre-dawn sky.

As day breaks on Thursday, the moon will be nearing its last quarter phase and appear as if it is sitting next to Mars.

The last quarter phase occurs a week after the moon is full and happens about every 29 days.

During this event, half of the lunar object’s disk is illuminated and visible from Earth.

Mars is deemed the eight brightest ‘star’ and will sit just 425 times further away from Earth than the moon, which is set to be 247,000 miles.

To watch the stunning event, stargazers will have to wait about an hour or two before the sunrises.

 

And the formation will appear in the southeast for all of the world to see.

Earlier this month, the world feasted its eyes on a ‘Flower moon’ ‘ — named for the increased fertility of plants during early May — which appeared six percent larger than normal.

It was the third and final supermoon of 2020 — but was also estimated to be less visually striking than the other two, which occurred on March 9 and across April 7 and 8.

Greg Brown, an astronomer at the Royal Observatory, said: ‘Technically the exact moment of full moon [was] 11:45am, however the moon [was not] visible in the sky in the UK at that time.’

Brown said: ‘Times for moonrise and set vary slightly across the UK, but not by more than about 10 minutes or so.’

The full moon was also a supermoon, meaning it appeared about six percent larger than a typical full moon and around 14 per cent bigger than a micromoon, which is when the moon is at its furthest point from Earth.

‘The moon’s orbit around the Earth is not entirely circular, instead a slightly flattened circle or ellipse,’ said Brown.

‘As such, it is sometimes closer to and sometimes further away from the Earth.

‘While definitions vary, a supermoon typically occurs when a full moon coincides with the moon being within the closest 10 per cent of its orbit.’

Brown also said this event was the third and final supermoon of this year.

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