UAE: Moon to line up with Mars this week; how to watch the spectacle

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This phenomenon will also be repeated in coming months with other planets


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Tue 19 Jul 2022, 6:35 PM

Last updated: Tue 19 Jul 2022, 10:30 PM

Astronomy enthusiasts in the UAE should keep their eye on the eastern sky before dawn on Friday (July 22) to see the crescent moon approach Mars.

This comes as the Moon continues its voyage of the morning planets with experts saying it will make for an “interesting stargazing target.”

The Moon and the Red planet will appear close enough to share the same field of view.

Explaining this phenomenon called “Conjunction” when two or more space objects are seen very close to one another, Hasan Al Hariri, CEO-Dubai Astronomy Group, highlights, “All the planets are visible in the morning sky. When conjunction happens, it seems as if they are all almost in one lane. So, the Moon will be in one line and will be within an approachable distance with the planets. Now the Moon will be close to Mars on Thursday night, after Jupiter and Saturn (earlier in the month). Next will be Venus.”

He adds, “This conjunction is a visual effect. It seems as if the Moon is coming close to these planets. This phenomenon will be repeated in the coming months with other planets as well. This will make for a beautiful view that people can observe. To observe this phenomenon, one must be an early bird. After 3am all the way till 4am one can observe this clearly towards the Eastern side. It will be a crescent moon.”

Elucidating on the technicalities of ascension, Sarath Raj, Project Director – Amity Dubai Satellite Ground Station and AmiSat Amity University Dubai, said, “Technically, when two celestial bodies in the sky have the same right ecliptic longitude, a conjunction occurs. On the celestial sphere, right ascension corresponds to longitude as it appears on the surface of the Earth. The Sun's apparent passage across the sky during a year is marked by an imaginary line called the ecliptic. Using the Sun's location at the March equinox as a reference, ecliptic longitude is calculated along the ecliptic eastward. With the exception of Mercury, the major planets in our solar system stay within three degrees of the ecliptic.”

He underlines that the Moon frequently forms conjunctions with certain planets.

He adds, “Every month the Moon passes each planet in the sky as it completes its orbit around the Earth. The moon will be in close proximity to five planets in July 2022: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and Mercury. On 21 July 2022, the moon will have a Right Ascension of 02h 05m 54.8s, Declination of 10° 43' 00.5" and a magnitude: of -9.86. Alongside, Mars will also have its Right Ascension of 02h 34m 37.0s, Declination of 13° 18' 14.0" and a magnitude of 0.31.

“Sharing the same right ascension, a close approach or an appulse will happen in the sky between Mars and Moon. The movement of the Moon toward a star or planet while it is in orbit is known as an appulse. The two will be visible in the dawn sky from Dubai, rising at 23:22, ascending to an altitude of 64.9° above the eastern horizon, and then disappearing from view as dawn breaks at roughly 05:05.This can be seen with the naked eye or with a pair of binoculars.”

It’s said although the Red Planet will come as close as 1°03’ to the Moon, but it’s still too wide to see both objects together through a telescope.

Therefore, experts advice using a pair of binoculars, or observing the conjunction with the naked eye.


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