You can see Moon and Mars conjunction AND Jupiter with the naked eye this week

STARGAZERS are in for a treat this week with the return of Jupiter as a pre-dawn 'star' and a conjunction between the Moon and Mars.

This Thursday the waxing crescent Moon will appear about four degrees below Mars in the evening sky.

The Moon will be about 42%-lit, meaning Mars should shine bright enough to be visible with the naked eye.

The Red Planet should look just like a bright star very close to the Moon.

You could always take a look with binoculars or a small telescope for a more detailed observation.

Try looking a few hours after sunset when the sky is dark.

You should also be able to see Jupiter with the naked eye this week.

Earlier risers will now be treated to Jupiter as a pre-dawn celestial object.

Look for Jupiter in the early hours of the morning on Saturday, February 20.

Jupiter will rise about one hour before the Sun does.

The planet is best viewed somewhere with an unobstructed view of the east-southeast horizon.

It will be very low down on the horizon and will shine like a star.

To make sure you're looking at the right object you can always download a night sky scanning app that can point you in the direction of planets and constellations.

Make sure you give your eyes a break from your phone afterwards though, stargazing is best when your eyes have adjusted to the dark.

Stargazing apps for Android and iPhone include: SkyView Lite, Star Tracker and Star Walk 2.

Some apps are free but a lot of them charge so it depends if you want to put up with adverts or not.

It's advisable to read the reviews of an app and look at how many people have rated it before downloading.

How far away is Jupiter from Earth?

Learn how long it takes to get the largest planet in the solar system…

  • At the closest point in their respective orbits, Jupiter and Earth are around 365 million miles apart.
  • But because neither planet spins around the sun in a perfect circle, nor at the same speed, this number fluctuates dramatically.
  • When they are furthest apart the planets are 601 million miles apart, more than two thirds farther away than they are at their nearest.
  • As it is further away Jupiter takes 11.86 Earth-years to complete one orbit of the sun.
  • While we travel around our star we catch up with the gas Giant once every 399 days, causing the gas giant to appear to travel backwards in the night sky.

In other space news, Elon Musk is plotting to launch a phone network using satellites operated by his aerospace company, SpaceX.

Four Supermoons will be gracing the night sky in 2021.

And, a Full Moon could be giving you a worse night's sleep, according to a new study.

Will you be stargazing this week? Let us know in the comments…

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