Mar 2019

Mars near Pleiades for a week!

Mars Near Pleiades
by John Hlynialuk

The end of March will go out with a nice view in the west just after sunset. Especially if you want to get a sense of how quickly planets move across the sky. The players involved are Mars and M45, the Pleiades Cluster. In the last week of March and the first week of April, Mars will be slipping past the Seven Sisters in the western sky. The closest approach (appulse) occurs on March 30 & 31 when the separation is about 3 degrees 9 minutes of arc. The spacing is under 5 degrees for a lot longer than that, from March 25 to April 6, so anytime during that interval will provide a nice photo opportunity.

Mars March 28 to Apr 3

The sky will be dark for the evening hours when Mars is above the horizon since the Moon is in last quarter (March 28) or new phase (April 6) and does not rise until the wee morning hours. The waxing 2 or 3 day old crescent does finally appear on the scene by Apr 7 or so -it is a nice addition to the group April 9.

The event will be visible nightly from sunset to about midnight when Mars finally sets below the western horizon so there is lots of time from sunset until midnight to catch a view of the planet and M45. Mars continues climbing eastwards in the SW sky for several more months crossing Taurus into Gemini and then finally getting lost in the Sun’s glare in Cancer in late June.

Diagram above shows the path of Mars from March 28 to Apr 3, 2019.