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How to see the moon and Mars together on Friday

Look up to the night sky on Friday and you might see the moon has some company: Mars.

The Red Planet will join the waning moon in the northeast about half an hour after moonrise and three hours after sunset that night. Sunset across most of Canada will fall between 6:30 and 8:30 p.m., depending on location.

Guillaume Poulin, science communicator at Mont-Mégantic National Park’s ASTROLab, said the best time to see this planet-moon pairing is closer to moonrise as opposed to later in the evening. This is because celestial bodies like the moon appear magnified when close to the horizon, making the sight more visually striking.

“They will be low hanging about three hours after sunset but they will rise by the minute,” he told in an interview over the phone on Wednesday. “If (people) have a clear view toward the northeast, they will have an excellent view of the moonrise, and Mars will follow.”

Poulin said Mars will appear just beneath the moon, and both will track eastward throughout the night. While the moon often appears close to other planets in the night sky, this pairing is taking place as Mars approaches its bi-annual opposition date and is more visible in the night sky.

Opposition refers to the time every two years when Mars and Earth come closest to one another in their orbits around the sun as Earth—which has a tighter, faster orbit—passes Mars. Mars’ opposition date this year is Dec. 8. This is when it will be in direct opposition to Earth, and therefore closest.

“Mars isn't always very visible in the sky, it depends on where it is relative to the sun and Earth,” said Poulin. “Right now, the Earth is racing to overtake Mars in its orbit. So at the beginning of December, we will be at the closest approach to the two planets. So it’s getting brighter as we speak."

Mars should also be visible near the moon in the night sky on Nov. 10. Top Stories

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