The new moon will be joined by a guest in the sky tonight.
Following the new moon on March 21 — which marked the start of Ramadan — the first quarter moon is rising in the sky tonight (March 28). In New York City, the moon will reach the first quarter phase at 10:22 p.m. EDT (232 GMT on March 29, according to skywatching site In-the-Sky.org.
And since the moon won’t set until the early morning hours of March 29, that means the first quarter moon will be visible in the night sky, appearing half-lit. And as a bonus, you’ll be able to spot Mars just to the right of the moon, as the two celestial bodies will be making a close approach known as an appulse. (They’ll also be in conjunction, which is when they share the same right ascension, the celestial equivalent of longitude.)
Related: Night sky, March 2023: What you can see tonight [maps]
Both Mars and the moon will be in the Gemini constellation on Tuesday evening. From New York City, the pair should be visible high to the south as soon as the skies darken enough for Mars to be visible. The Red Planet and the moon will be separated by just 2 degrees (the width of your fist at arm’s length equals roughly ten degrees) and both will set to the west just after 2 a.m. EDT (0600 GMT) on March 29.
Every 29.5 days, the moon goes through four main phases as it orbits the Earth: new moon, first quarter moon, full moon, and last quarter moon. During this cycle, the moon goes from being completely dark to being half-lit to then full, before returning back to half-lit and completely dark. Though the moon might appear to be only partially lit from the perspective of Earth for the majority of its cycle, about half of the moon is always lit by the sun — we just can’t see all of the illuminated surface from Earth.
Next up in the lunar cycle is the full moon on April 6. This month’s full moon is known as the Pink Moon, but don’t expect the moon to actually turn pink; it has the moniker because it typically coincides with the bloom of the pink wildflower Phlox subulata.
If you want to get a closer look at the first-quarter moon tonight, as well as its night sky neighbor Mars, check out our guides to the best telescopes and best binoculars for stargazing. And if you want to try your hand at a little astrophotography, we’ve got tips about how to photograph the moon.
Need some equipment to get the perfect shot? Read through our guides to the best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography.
Editor’s Note: If you get a great photo of Mars near the first quarter moon and would like to share your photo(s) with Space.com’s readers, send your photo(s), comments, and your name and location to email@example.com.
Follow Stefanie Waldek on Twitter @StefanieWaldek. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.