Mars-Spica-Moon threesome chases away those wintertime blues

Look to the southeast this evening after moonrise to catch this star-planet-lunar trio. This map shows the sky around 11:30 p.m. local time. Stellarium

We just received another 11 inches of snow on top of the four feet that’s been lounging about the yard the past couple months. I’ve rarely seen such an abundance of whiteness. Then this morning, a chill fog condensed on every protrusion it could find, covering all in hoarfrost. When the night rolls around the stars add crystal shimmers of their own. Is this the best season or what?

Thick frost coats branches on a tree in Duluth, Minn. after an early morning fog today. Credit: Bob KingĀ 

I know many reading this are ready for winter to be finished. If too much snow and cold give you the blues, may I direct your attention to a pleasing arrangement of the waning gibbous moon, the blue-white star Spica and ruddy Mars in the late evening sky tonight?

The late-rising trio comes up around 11 p.m. local time but will show best by midnight or later. If you get up early for work or school, look off to the southwest during early morning twilight to catch the scene.

At that hour, the moon’s eastward orbital motion will have changed the shape of the triangle entirely.

I just received an review copy of the Carl Sagan classic bestseller Cosmos re-published in paperback with a a new forward by astrophysicist and astronomy popularizer / comedian Neil deGrasse Tyson. If you’ve never read Cosmos, take this opportunity to pick up a copy.

DeGrasse Tyson will be hosting a brand new remake of Sagan’s Cosmos TV series series starting March 9 on Fox at 8 p.m. Central Time Sundays and 9 p.m. Mondays on the National Geographic Channel.

3 thoughts on “Mars-Spica-Moon threesome chases away those wintertime blues

  1. Just went to the barn and seem to see a low aurora — two or three faint spires.
    Not sure if I am simply being hopeful — but it is 25, no wind, with a starry starry night.. . just a lovely sky. Northern WI.

  2. Mars is really getting big, first time I saw surface features since it reappeared. The conditions were miserable too with high winds and atmospheric seeing below average. The other day I mistook it for Arcturus, which seems to have about the same color and brightness at the moment.

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