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Mars and The Moon
October 02, 2020
The moon will rise just after 8pm Eastern Time on Friday night. Just to the left of it will be a bright orange dot. The planet Mars. The two objects will be close enough that you should be able to see both in the same field of view through a modest pair of binoculars, depending on the magnification. Most telescopes get too close to see both in the eyepiece, but if you have a telescope--even a small toy telescope, you know just how striking the moon can be. If you haven’t gotten yours out in a while, get it out this weekend. Not only do you have the moon and Mars, but also Jupiter and Saturn. Jupiter is the brightest object behind the moon, but Mars isn’t far behind in brightness. Thankfully, Mars is on the other end of the southern sky, and has a distinctively orange hue. And of course it’ll be right next to the moon on Friday night, so there’s no confusing which one’s which. However, if you observe on Saturday or Sunday, look for Jupiter and Saturn due south around 8:30, and west of that if you go out later with Jupiter on the right and dimmer, yellowish Saturn on the left.
If you have a larger telescope, and you plan on being up late on Saturday night, scan just above and to the left of the moon with the scope and look for a light blue disc. That’s Uranus. And if you have a really big telescope, you probably already know that Neptune is also out and will be due south just after midnight.
So, with the right equipment, you can see all of the outer planets this weekend. But you’ll see half of them, plus Mars… with just your own two eyes.