Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Here comes Mars......

Get out and see Mars, you can't miss it these days.  No! It's not as big as the full moon, and don't even think of believing that nonsense.

Tomorrow Mars is at opposition, which means it's at it's closest point to the Earth, only 99 million km (or about 61.5 million miles).  When it's at opposition, it is directly in line with the Earth and sun, and opposite of the sun in the sky. So it will rise and sunset, and set at sunrise.  It's nice and high in the sky around midnight, but still a small view due to the distance (not like the full moon!!).  Still, if you have stable, transparent skies, you should be able to make out the polar cap as well as surface features.  Mars is nearing it's farthest point in it's elliptical orbit, so the view will be small.  This will be our best view until 2016 since next time around it will be even farther and smaller.  Here in Seattle, we just sit and hope for a break, but will more likely be shaking a clenched fist at the obscured skies.

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