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Menopausal Mother Nature

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Moon near Mars and Pleiades, January 2 and 3

Chart: Steep green ecliptic line with 2 positions of moon, and also Pleiades, Mars, and Aldebaran.
You can spot the waxing gibbous moon near Mars and the Pleiades star cluster on January 2 and 3, 2023. Another reddish point of light, Aldebaran, brightest star in Taurus the Bull, is nearby. Chart via John Jardine Goss/ EarthSky.

Moon near Mars and Pleiades

The waxing gibbous moon passes through the constellation Taurus the Bull in early January. For the Northern Hemisphere, on January 2, 2023, the moon is close to the pretty, glittering star cluster of the Pleiades. The Pleiades, or Seven Sisters, are especially lovely in binoculars. The next night, January 3, the moon pairs closely with Mars.

The brightly lit moon will wash out faint background stars, but you should still be able to make out the V-shaped Hyades star cluster that forms the Bull’s face nearby. Another reddish light lies there: Aldebaran, the Eye of the Bull.

Mars reached its once-in-two-years opposition on December 8, 2022. As Mars and Earth separate in their orbits, Mars’ brightness will continue to fade. Early January is the brightest that Mars will be all year, so catch it now!

Check out the 2023 EarthSky lunar calendar. A unique and beautiful poster-sized calendar showing phases of the moon every night of the year. It makes a great  gift.

The view from the Southern Hemisphere

From the Southern Hemisphere, you’ll want to look toward your northern horizon to see the moon pass the Pleiades, Mars and Aldebaran. South America will see the moon by the Pleiades on January 2 and by Mars on January 3. Across the globe in the Eastern Hemisphere, Australians will see the moon between Pleiades and Mars on January 3.

Depending on your location on Earth, the view changes slightly from your perspective and depending on when the sky is dark overhead. So, if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, turn our maps upside down for a more accurate view. Or try Stellarium for a precise star chart from your location.

Bottom line: You can spot the moon near Mars and the Pleiades star cluster on the evenings of January 2 and 3, 2023. The reddish star Aldebaran is also nearby.

For more great observing events in the coming weeks, visit EarthSky’s night sky guide

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