I just heard recently that in the near future mars is going to be highly visible to Earth. What is the details of this? Why is this so and what dates, time and position in the sky can I view this?
A story floating around the Internet this summer says that Mars will pass unusually close to Earth in late August, and will appear as large as the full Moon.
Sorry, but it's not true.
Mars actually made its closest pass to Earth in many centuries in August of 2003. It was quite bright then, but it still looked only like a bright star, and was nowhere near the size of the full Moon.
2006 is a poor year for viewing Mars. The planet put in a good showing in late 2005, but has been growing fainter throughout this year. In August, it is barely visible very low in the west for a few minutes in early evening, beginning perhaps 30 to 40 minutes after sunset. It looks like a faint star. It drops from sight by about an hour after sunset.
. . . when it will disappear in the Sun's glare. Mars will reemerge in the morning sky in late December. In March , it will pass quite close to Aldebaran, the star that marks the “eye” of Taurus, the bull. Mars and Aldebaran will look like twins, with near-identical color and brightness.
More Moon and Planets
Three planets that are headed in different directions congregate low in the east as twilight paints the dawn sky the next few days. And tomorrow, a thin crescent Moon joins them. The Moon will help you pick them out, but you'll probably want binoculars to see two of the planets.
The brightest of the three planets -- the only one that's easily visible to the unaided eye -- is Venus, the "morning star." It's just below the Moon at first light.
Venus has reined in the early morning sky almost all year, but it won't be there much longer. It's on the far side of the Sun from Earth, and will cross behind the Sun in a couple of months. Over the coming weeks, Venus will move closer and closer to the Sun, and will disappear in the Sun's glare within just a couple of weeks. It'll REappear in December -- in the evening sky.
The other planets are to the lower left of Venus -- so low in the sky that you'll want binoculars to pick them out.
The one that's highest in the sky is Saturn, while the other is Mercury. Mercury's a little brighter.
Like Venus, Mercury is dropping toward the Sun, and will soon completely disappear from view.
Saturn, on the other hand, is climbing away from the Sun. Within a couple of weeks, it'll be clearly visible in the east at first light. You won't need binoculars to find it. It'll climb higher across the sky later in the year, providing a bright highlight for the long, cold nights of winter.
Stardate is sponsored by the McDonald Observatory.
Three morning planets...RAD4921 said:Today I found out on the local news that three morning stars would be aligned by the crescent moon.
Cool screenshot..russ_watters said:Three morning planets...
russ_watters said:Three morning planets...