New moon occurs today at 1:57am. By sunset the moon will be a waxing crescent phase that is only 18 hours into the lunar cycle.
Mars is about half the size of Earth and like Earth it is a rocky planet. By studying these rocks scientists have been able to show that Mars once had large amounts of liquid water on its surface.
This year, two missions will visit asteroids with the goal to return samples to Earth. In June JAXA mission Hayabusa 2 will visit Ryugu and in October NASA mission OSIRI-REx will visit Bennu.
Look to the north at 9pm and you will find the Big Dipper. If you follow the curve of its handle it will point you to the bright red giant star Arcturus. This star is about 25 times larger than the sun.
On May 5 NASA will launch the next Mars lander called InSight. This mission is intended to study the crust, mantle and core of Mars. This is the first robotic mission to study the interior of Mars.
Look north around 9pm and you will find the Big Dipper. If you follow the two stars at the end of its bowl you can find the current North Star named Polaris.
Even though it is spring we can still see the Winter Circle. Looking to the southwest around 9pm tonight you will see six bright stars that form the Winter Circle!
James S. McDonnell was born on this date in 1899. He started his first company in 1928, to build the Doodlebug, before founding St. Louis-based McDonnell Aircraft Company in 1939.
Last quarter moon occurs today. This is a good opportunity to grab some daytime views of the moon before it sets at 12:26 pm.
Mars is the 4th planet from the sun. It takes about 687 Earth days to complete one orbit. Because Earth orbits faster we catch up to Mars every 26 months and opposition occurs.