Mars marches from Aries to Gemini in the evening sky this month. For northern hemisphere observers, the red planet is trying to maintain its position against later sunsets. On the 1st, Mars is high above the Hyades V. On the 6th, it crosses an imaginary line between Elnath and Tianguan. The moon passes by the planet on the 7th. The planet arrives at the feet of Gemini around the 16th. Look for Propus and Tejat near the planet around the 21st. On the 31st, Mars is next to Mebsuta. With a clear enough horizon and sky, you should see that Mercury has become an evening object on that line between Elnath and Tianguan. Watch Mercury and Mars in June when they’ll be close in Gemini.
Jupiter is a late evening riser at the bottom of Ophiuchus. Saturn rises a little after midnight at the start of the month. It’s on the east side of the Sagittarius teapot. The ringed planet rises before local midnight in the second half of the month. Both Jupiter and Saturn are retrograde all month, but they don’t change much from their positions.
Mercury and Venus are paired in the morning at the start of the month. Venus is always easy to spot, even when it’s close to the horizon before sunrise as it is all month. Mercury is harder to see. Look for it when the moon is near on the 3rd. That’ll be just one morning after the moon being near Venus. Mercury is heading sunward and is at superior conjunction on the 21st.
Moon phases: new on the 4th, first quarter on the 12th, full on the 18th, last quarter on the 26th.
The moon’s orbital positions: on the equator going north on the 2nd, northern lunistice on the 9th, on the equator going south on the 15th, southern lunistice on the 22nd, and going north of the equator again on the 29th.
The moon is at perigee on the 13th 369,100 km from Earth center-to-center. Apogee is on the 26th 404,100 km distant.
The moon’s conjunctions this month:
2nd: Vesta, Venus
8th: Tejat. Viewers from the South Atlantic Ocean will see an occultation.
22nd: Saturn. Viewers in South Africa and in the South Sea by the Indian Ocean get an occultation.
Other conjunctions this month:
1st: Vesta 3.5° south of Venus
18th: Uranus 1.1° north of Venus