Tonight the crescent moon will be in Taurus the Bull.

Look toward the west around 7:30 p.m. to find the moon nearly 40 degrees above the horizon. Taurus is like a “V” with its point directed toward the horizon when it is in the western sky. The moon will be in the middle of the right arm of the V. Just above and to the left of the moon will be red-orange Aldebaran, the 14th-brightest star in the sky. The bright moon will dim Taurus considerably.

Low-power binoculars should provide a great view of this region. To the right (north) of the moon and slightly closer to the horizon are the Pleiades, which are always marvelous in low-power binoculars. Friday night the moon will have moved on toward the east to sit north of Orion the Hunter.

Later in the evening, around 9:30 p.m., direct your attention toward the east. Fiery-red Mars will be 30 degrees above the horizon and just above and somewhat to the left (north) of Spica in Virgo the Virgin. Contrast the red color of Mars with the blue color of Spica, the 16th-brightest star in the sky.

On Tuesday, Mars will be at opposition (exactly 180 degrees away from the sun) and as bright as it will get for a while. Its closest approach to the Earth will be on April 14, when it will be 57.4 million miles from the Earth.

At its next two closest approaches, in May 2016 and July 2018, Mars will be successively 46.8 million and 35.8 million miles from the Earth.

When Mars is at close approach to the Earth, the red planet becomes quite bright, rivaling Jupiter’s brightness.

Contact Tim Hunter at skyspy