Mars behind the Moon Feb. 18th

Many people believe that the very best time to observe the moon is when there is a full moon. When in actuality it is the worst time to view because many of the shadow features are lost at this time.

The very best time to observe the moon is two or three days after first quarter, for several reasons:

  1. The moon is in a good position for evening study.
  2. Nearly all of the major features of the moon can be seen.
  3. The moon is not too bright which causes loss of detail through glare.
  4. As the line of darkness – called the terminator – recedes, features near the border stand out in bold relief; the shadows become stronger and details are more easily seen.

The conjunction of Mars will be a very good time to observe the moon and Mars because it checks 3 out of 4 boxes here. The only downside is that it will be in the early predawn sky. But weather permitting it will be a magical event for observers and astrophotographers alike.

As the waning crescent moon rises in the small hours of this morning, telescope and binocular users will be preparing for an unusual event: The moon will glide in front of reddish, star-like Mars for viewers across North America, Central America, extreme northern South America, Cuba and Haiti. 

This event will occur prior to sunrise across the western half of North America; for the eastern half of the continent the moon will cross in front of Mars in daylight, when the Red Planet isn't visible. 

We would love to see your photos of this event! Please send any photos to our Facebook business page or our instagram. If we feature your photo we will give you a free OCTelescope t-shirt and full image credit of course.

This month we are giving away free Revolution Imagers with purchase of a new Nexstar 8SE or Nexstar Evolution 6, 8, and 9.25. We also have a new beginner scope series to check out. StarSense Explorer has a built in dock for your cell phone to guide you on a tour of the universe.