Last Chance to Get a Good Look at Mars Until 2012

On Thursday night, March 25, many people may look up at the sky and ask the question, “What’s that bright star next to the moon?”
The answer for Thursday night is Mars, but that answer changes night by night as the moon travels along the ecliptic, the path the sun, moon and planets follow across the sky. If you ask the question again on Monday night, March 29, the answer will be the ringed planet Saturn.
Such conjunctions of the moon and planets are regular reminders of how rapidly the moon moves across the sky. Mars was in opposition to the Sun on Jan. 29, when it appeared 14 arcseconds in diameter, 1/120 of the diameter of the moon. Two months later, it is much farther away, and has shrunk to only 10 arcseconds in diameter.
This will be your last chance to get a good look at Mars until it approaches the Earth again in 2012.