Mars and the Moon Will Align in the Sky Tonight. Here's When & How to See Them.
The conjunction of Mars and the moon this weekend will whet your appetite for the Perseids meteor shower next week.
You're in for a veritable stargazing feast over the next several days. On Saturday, Mars and the moon will form a dazzling conjunction overnight, which you can think of as sort of an appetizer before the Perseid meteor shower's spectacular peak early next week, the main course. You're gonna want to enjoy both.
On the night of August 8 into the morning of August 9, Mars and the moon will appear to violate social distancing rules in the sky. You'll have to stay up late in order to spot the pair, but that shouldn't be much of a problem on a warm weekend night in the middle of summer. The stargazing spectacle, known as a conjunction, will only get better as the night turns into the early hours of the morning. Should you find yourself with clear skies (definitely check the weather before you head out), you'll likely also be rewarded with a few meteor sightings as the aforementioned Perseids shower nears its peak. Venus will also be hanging around.
How to see Mars and the moon in conjunction
Head outside and direct your attention to the East around midnight and you may be able to spot the red planet in the vicinity of a waning gibbous moon, weather permitting, according to EarthSky. The pair will appear to travel together (to be clear, they're still millions of miles apart) westward across the sky before peaking at their highest point together around dawn. Like with viewing anything in the sky at night, you'll want to get away from the bright lights of the city and suburbs for the best results, though you'll still be able to see the two through light pollution. You'll also want to give your eyes some time to adjust -- 30 minutes should do the trick -- once you've found your spot.
If you have any trouble locating Mars, I recommend turning to a stargazing mobile app like Night Sky, which will label the stars, planets, and more as you point your phone at the night sky. Then again, Mars is set to look brighter and brighter every night this month and next ahead of reaching opposition, when Earth passes between it and the sun in October, its brightest. In other words, if you haven't been watching Mars yet this summer, the conjunction with the moon marks the perfect time to start.