Liberal Arts Blog — Mars and the Moon, Venus, and Regulus — Did You Catch Them?

Liberal Arts Blog — Wednesday is the Joy of Science, Engineering, and Technology Day

Today’s Topic — Mars and the Moon, Venus and Regulus — did you catch them? One of the highlights of the last week was seeing two conjunctions in one night — Mars and a nearly full moon to the West and Venus and Regulus to the East at 5am Saturday morning. Orion was shining magnificently to the South and Big Dipper to the Northeast. Thank you, Leon Golub, for alerting me. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.


1. “A blue moon” occurs when there is a second full moon in the same month. This happens this month! The first full moon of October was on October 1st.

2. On October 6th Mars will be closer to the earth (38.6 million miles) than it will be again until 2035.

3. Mars is named after the Roman God of War because of its ruddy (ie. bloody, red) complexion.

REGULUS (in the “sickle” asterism of the Leo constellation) AND VENUS

1. Venus is by far the brightest object in the pre-dawn sky (apart from the moon).

2. Regulus (“the Little King”) is one of the brightest stars in the sky but Venus is 100X brighter. In fact, Regulus is not a single star but a “quadruple star system composed of two pairs of stars.

3. Regulus and Venus will not meet up again for 8 years.

NB: While Venus is roughly one astronomical unit (93 MM miles) away from earth. Regulus is about 79 million light years away — that is roughly 470 trillion miles!


1. Venus orbits the sun 13X for every 8 earth orbits.

2. The relative positions of the earth, sun, and Venus repeat five times in those 8 years.

3. Sometimes Venus “occults” or hides Regulus from view. This last happened in 1959 and will happen again in 2044.

Spectacular Venus-Regulus conjunction in early October! |

The 8-year cycle and 5 ‘petals’ of Venus |

Don’t miss Mars and the nearly full moon huddling together in tonight’s sky


October 2020: Mars is the Star! — Sky & Telescope

A link to the last three years of posts organized by theme:

PDF with headlines — Google Drive


Please share the coolest thing you learned this week related to science, engineering, or technology. Or, even better, the coolest or most important thing you learned in your life related to science and engineering.

This is your chance to make someone else’s day. Or to cement in your mind something that you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply about something dear to your heart. Continuity is key to depth of thought.



Passionate about education, thinking citizenship, art, and passing bits on of wisdom of a long lifetime.

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John Muresianu

Passionate about education, thinking citizenship, art, and passing bits on of wisdom of a long lifetime.