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Rare events in the sky this weekend

Posted at 2:12 PM, Sep 25, 2015

This is an unsolicited attempt to get you outside looking at the night sky this weekend.

Saturday morning at 6:27 a.m., look low in the northwest for a steady but slow moving dot of light. That’s the International Space Station. It will scoot nearly overhead in the southeast, then fade in the distance in the southeast. The ISS makes no sound and has no blinking lights on it, which helps with identification. Other flyovers can be found here.

On Sunday night, there will be a supermoon combined with a lunar eclipse. The moon will appear 14 percent larger until it’s eclipsed around 9:30 p.m.

RELATED | A lunar event you won't see again until 2033
Below: Map track of when you can see the ISS

Other reasons to look up at night

Are you up before the Sun? Look east. You can't miss Venus -- the brightest object in the night sky after the Moon -- currently “only” about 39 million miles away. But also look for Mars, ten degrees to the lower left of Venus. It's fainter and orange-red, and is about 4 degrees above the fairly bright star Regulus.

For reference, extend your arm and make a fist; your fist covers an angle of 10 degrees.  It’s easy to test this on the Big Dipper, as it is pretty close to 10 degrees across the bowl, diagonally, both ways.

For further reference, the brightest star in our night sky, Sirius, is 45 degrees or so to the right of Venus. The planets don't twinkle like stars do.

If you watch over the next several weeks, Mars and Venus will scoot past Regulus and join Jupiter low in the morning twilight. Mars will become brighter approaching opposition in 2016.  And no, Mars will not appear the same size as the Moon.

The mornings of October 8 and 9, a waning crescent Moon will join the mix, adding to the coolness. On October 11, Mercury will be one degree from the Moon but may be difficult in twilight.  Just guessing, you have never seen Mercury that you have known (always low in the twilight, maybe pinkish in a binocular).