We tend to treat Mars a lot like we treat Paul Giamatti. He exists when you’re not looking, of course, but you just don’t spend a lot of time thinking about him until someone says, “Hey, have you seen the new season of Billions?” Then you think, Hey, I like Paul Giamatti. Let’s do this. Well, Mars is putting on a show this week and it’s called, I don’t know, something about it and the moon being close but not too close… sounds a bit like a soap opera, but it’s going to be worth your time.
Mars will close-in on the moon on the mornings of May 14 and 15. Just before sunrise, Mars will be tangling with the moon, or, at least, it’ll appear to be close to our satellite. You’ll want to rise about an hour before the sun to see the two of them getting cozy in the sky. The pair of orbs will look like they’re close together, but Mars is about 425 times further away from Earth than the moon.
Unfortunately, the closest pass between Mars and the last quarter moon will happen around 10pm EST, when both are still below the horizon. So, you’ll have to wait until the pre-dawn hours for a chance to see them as close as possible.
Additionally, when you head out, you’ll be able to spot both Jupiter and Saturn shining bright in the sky. Jupiter is the fourth-brightest object in our sky, only outranked by the sun, moon, and Venus. Mars will still be looking fairly bright on these mornings. However, it won’t hit its brightest point of the year until October 13, when it’ll be 16 times brighter than it is this month, per EarthSky. At that point, it’ll be even brighter than Jupiter. For now, just enjoy Mars and maybe spare a moment to think about what Paul Giamatti might be doing on this lovely morning.