2019, March 11: Moon, Mars, and Winter Stars


This evening, the crescent moon (overexposed on the image, is about 7.5 degrees to the left of Mars.  Tomorrow evening the moon is between the Pleiades and the Hyades star clusters.  Take a look with a binocular.

The star clusters are considered part of Taurus.  The Pleiades resemble a tiny dipper.  Through a binocular you can see a dozen or so stars.  The Hyades are to the left of the Pleiades.  They make a “check mark” shape.  When Aldebaran is included, the patter resembles a letter “V,” the face of the Bull.  Aldebaran could be considered its fiery red eye.  Zeta Tauri and Elnath are considered to be the bull’s horns.

Watch Mars move closer to Pleiades as the month progresses.  It passes them late in the month.

In focus, the moon is 5.4 days old and displaying a crescent phase that is 25% illuminated.

The flagship of winter constellations is Orion, with its bright stars Betelgeuse and Rigel, appears in the southern sky during early evening hours.  With a binocular look below the three stars, Orion’s belt, toward Rigel.  The region has a hazy cloud, the Orion Nebula, where stars are forming.  Betelgeuse, along with Sirius, the Dog Star, and Procyon, the Little Dog Star, make an equilateral triangle known as the Winter Triangle.  Take a look at them through your binocular and you can see some interesting contrasts of star color.

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