Moon, Mars, Saturn Come Together At Dawn

Tomorrow morning, watch for three shiny objects to align in the sky at dawn: the last quarter moon, Mars and Saturn. Stellarium

Although Mars and Saturn have parted, they’re still within earshot of each other, separated by less than 3° tomorrow morning (April 7). At the same time, the last quarter moon joins the scene, passing just 1° north of Saturn to make a bright threesome.

Saturn’s rings are in full tilt and show clearly in a small telescope. If the atmosphere’s not too turbulent, the gap between the A and B rings called Cassini’s Division is visible in a 4-inch telescope magnifying about 100x. You’ll also see the planet’s brightest moons Titan (magnitude 8.7) and 10th magnitude Rhea (RAY-uh).

Saturn and Mars viewed in a modest-sized telescope tomorrow morning. If your telescope flips things upside down, Titan will appear below Saturn and Rhea above. Don’t forget to look at the moon too! Last or third quarter phase shows good craters and lots of mountain peaks. Stellarium

Mars looks like a tiny, pink gibbous moon. If the air is VERY steady, meaning the planet will look still and sharp, you can up your magnification to 200x or higher and maybe see a few dark surface markings. While getting brighter and closer, Mars has a ways to go yet before it really takes center stage. That will happen later this summer.