If your skies are clear and you have a good view of the western horizon, you're in for a special celestial sight on the evening of March 29, 2017. Just after sunset (which will occur approximately between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m. depending on your location) look for the moon's thin first crescent.
As the sky continues to darken and the stars pop out, look diagonally down to the right (toward the horizon). You should be able to find the planet Mercury. Because the planet will appear low in the sky, you'll have an easier time locating it if your view is unobstructed, such as across an open field or large body of water.
Above the moon (see image below), you'll be able to spot the reddish glow of Mars. Connecting the dots, the slender crescent moon, Mars, and Mercury will form a triangle. If you consider the line created by Mercury and Mars to be the baseline, the moon will be to the left. If you extend the baseline up father in the sky, about half way to overhead, you'll arrive at another reddish spot. This is the star Aldebaran, the eye of Taurus the bull.
But don't wait too long. Mercury will set less than an hour and a half after the sun, the moon less than a half an hour after that, followed an hour later by the setting of Mars.
Once you know the relative positions of these celestial points, you can watch as they change over the course of the next few days and weeks. On March 30, the moon will appear higher in the sky than Mars, and by March 31, the moon will approach the star Aldebaran. By about April 10, Mercury will become lost in twilight glow, and by mid-month it will sink below the horizon. Relative to the background stars, Mars will travel approximately toward Aldebaran. On April 22, Mars will be just to the left of the Pleiades cluster, and on May 1, Mars will appear to the right of Aldebaran.
Pier Press seeks to facilitate informed conversation at the intersection of science and spirit by promoting Biblical and scientific literacy. This article appeared in the March 28, 2017 issue of Observations: A Pier Press® Newsletter. Subscribe today to have future issues delivered directly to your inbox.