The bright planets Mars and Saturn will shine together in the predawn sky on Tuesday (March 31). You can catch them above the southeast horizon before sunrise.
Saturn will be in conjunction with the Red Planet, meaning the two objects will share the same celestial longitude, on Tuesday at 6:56 a.m. EDT (1056 GMT), according to the skywatching site In-The-Sky.org. A few hours later, the two planets will make their closest approach, passing within one degree of each other at 1:25 p.m. EDT (1725 GMT).
For skywatchers in the United States, Saturn and Mars won't be visible at the moment of conjunction or during the closest approach, because daylight will obstruct the view. However, those who look up at the sky before sunrise will still be able to see the two tight-knit planets put on a show in the morning sky.
In New York City, for example, Saturn will rise at 3:40 a.m. local time, followed by Mars just four minutes later. The sun will rise in New York City at 6:40 a.m. local time, so skywatchers have up to three hours to enjoy the views of Mars and Saturn. To find out exactly when the planets rise and set from your location, check out this night sky calculator from Time and Date.
Also visible nearby will be the giant planet Jupiter, which rises about half an hour before Saturn. Jupiter will be in the constellation of Sagittarius, the archer, which Mars and Saturn will be in Capricornus, the sea goat.
Jupiter, notably the brightest of the three visible planets, will be shining at a magnitude of -2.0, making it brighter than any star in the sky. (Magnitude is a measurement of brightness used by astronomers, with lower numbers denoting brighter objects. Negative numbers denote exceptionally bright objects.)
Editor's note: If you have an amazing skywatching photo you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, you can send images and comments in to email@example.com.
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Hanneke Weitering is a multimedia journalist in the Pacific Northwest reporting on the future of aviation at FutureFlight.aero and Aviation International News and was previously the Editor for Spaceflight and Astronomy news here at Space.com. As an editor with over 10 years of experience in science journalism she has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the Space.com team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy. She currently lives in Seattle, home of the Space Needle, with her cat and two snakes. In her spare time, Hanneke enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains, basking in nature and looking for dark skies to gaze at the cosmos.
FYI. I did view this celestial event Tuesday morning using my binoculars and telescope. Here are some notes I share from my stargazing log.Reply
"Observed 0515 - 0615 EDT. Sunrise 0651/0652 EDT. Mostly cloudy skies with occasional breaks. I was able to view the close conjunction this morning of Mars and Saturn. I used 10x50 binoculars and the telescope. 25-mm plossl at 40x and 1.3-degree true field of view (FOV) provide an easy view of both. I could see Saturn with its rings, Titan moon, and the smaller, orange-red hue of Mars. Using the 14-mm at 71x, Mars was resolved as planet disk with Saturn, rings, and Titan visible. However, it was easier to fit both planets into the same FOV at 40x. I briefly observed Jupiter using 10-mm eyepiece at 100x. I could see the cloud belts and some of the Galilean moons. Cloud coverage this morning made observations difficult. Starry Night showed the encounter, Mars and Saturn separated by about 55 arcminute or just less than one degree apart."