There are few more beautiful views than a waxing crescent Moon nestling up close to a bright planet, and that’s something you can see this weekend if you know when and where to look.

Look to the southwest after dark on Saturday, April 17, 2021 and those in the northern hemisphere will see our satellite close to Mars. It’s the only planet visible to the naked eye in the evenings this month.

For observers in parts of Asia this conjunction will be even more dramatic as Mars gets occulted—covered-up—by the Moon for a few hours. 

Here’s everything you need to know about this weekend’s conjunction between the Moon and the red planet—including exactly when and where to look:

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When is the Moon-Mars conjunction?

It’s been happening every month for a while now (see above for an image of the same event last month), but this month the Moon-Mars conjunction is very close for some observers.

On Saturday, April 17, 2021 the Moon and Mars will be between 5º and 7º from each other as seen from North America and Europe.

Start looking as the dusk turns into darkness—so about 90 minutes after sunset—and you’ll easily see both the Moon and Mars.

Where is the Moon-Mars conjunction?

Anytime after dark is when to look about 50° above the southwest horizon—so about halfway up the night sky—in the constellation of Taurus.

There you’ll find Mars shining at a magnitude of 1.5—so fairly dim, but easy enough to spot—close to a 23%-lit, 4.5-days old crescent Moon. You won’t be able to miss the Moon.

However, you’ll have plenty of time because Mars and the Moon won’t sink into the western horizon until after midnight.

How best to see the Moon-Mars conjunction?

Despite the Moon being 249,815 miles/402,038 km distant and Mars being 177,746 million miles/286,054 million km away, this is something you’ll be able to see with your naked eyes.

You’ll also be able to put them in the same field of view in a pair of binoculars or a small telescope.

Where to see the Moon occult Mars

From some parts of Africa and Asia the Moon will block Mars for about 30 minutes in a rare a lunar occultation. It will be visible from a path several thousands miles wide curving from the west coast of southern Africa via India to Indonesia.

So while Africa and Asia get to see the Moon and Mars appear at their closest, for the whole world this is a great opportunity to see two of our best-loved celestial bodies closely align in our night sky.

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How special is this Mars-Moon conjunction?

“Every time the Moon and a bright planet share the same spot in the sky, usually one time per month for each planet, it is a good idea to invite people to look up,” said Gianluca Masi, Astronomers Without Borders National Coordinator for Italy and astrophysicist with the Virtual Telescope Project. “These conjunctions are easily accessible events, you just need your eyes to enjoy them—and they help people discover the night sky and connect with its beauty.”

Masi will host a “Global Star Party” online observing session at 19:00 UTC on April 17, 2021.

When is the next full Moon?

The next full Moon—the “Super Pink Moon”—will occur on Monday, April 26, 2021. It will be best viewed at moonrise as out satellite appears on the eastern horizon. A

s for Mars, that’s now on the wane as Earth pulls away from it on its quicker journey around the Sun. It next comes to opposition—the closest it ever gets to Earth—on December 8, 2022.

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.