WASHINGTON, December 24, 2014 – The waxing crescent moon will point your gaze to the red planet Mars, as they appear just after sunset. As darkness falls, the moon and Mars will follow the sun beneath the horizon by early-to-mid evening.
Adding to the brilliance will be Venus, which may be visible near the horizon 45 to 60 minutes after sunset.
According to EarthSky.com, it is an event that Mars, which was ten times brighter than it is now when it came its closest to Earth in April of this year, is still shining as brightly as a 1st-magnitude star.
Mars reaches its closest point to the sun, or perihelion, and keeping it brightly in our visual orbit this month. EarthSky.com explains:
Because Mars is near perihelion, it’s traveling eastward in front of the backdrop stars at its fastest clip right now. The increased orbital speed is helping to keep Mars visible in our evening sky.
So we learn that Mars is moving away from the Westerly sunset even as the sun is also moving east, moving infront of the constellations of the Zodiac, toward Mars.
As seen on our sky’s dome, the somewhat faster-moving sun is slowly but surely gaining ground on the red planet and by spring, Mars will be fully hidden in the sun’s glare.
Mars should be visible at nightfall and early evening for several months to come.
Read more: Moon and Mars on Christmas Eve 2014
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