Virgo’s brightest star Spica will be covered up by the waning moon for Central America and a wide swath of South America late tonight. For sky watchers in the U.S. and across much of the northern hemisphere, the moon will side-step the star but still pass very close beneath it.
Spica comes up with the moon around 11 p.m. local time and the two will be closest around midnight (CST). In Duluth, Minn. less than one moon diameter (1/2 degree) will separate them.
From Los Angeles, they’ll be three times closer. Spica should be fairly obvious with the naked eye, but with a bright moon so nearby, a pair of binoculars will give a clearer, more intense view.
The planet Saturn shines to the lower left of Spica and rises a little before midnight. Tomorrow night the moon will pay it a visit, too. One of the enjoyments of tonight’s celestial rendezvous is watching the moon move in relation to Spica. The two will be close enough for you to easily see the moon travel eastward (to the left) in just half an hour’s time.
If you’re one of the lucky ones, Spica will disappear along the moon’s bright edge and reappear a short time later along the dark edge, an event called an occultation. You can refer to this table of cities and times to find where and when it happens. Just an FYI – Spica is referred to as “ZC 1925″ on the site.