23 August 2007

Close to Mars

    I'm moving to Mars next week, so if you have any boxes...
      Stephen Wright

In the time it took to read that quote, we all moved about 25 miles closer to Mars. That's according to NASA calculations and this article from Space.com. Mars and Earth are closing the gap between them at a rate of 22,000 mph.

By December, Mars will outshine every star in the sky. It will not, of course, be anywhere near the size of the moon, regardless of chain mail that suggests otherwise. Even at its brightest Mars is still a dot of light to the naked eye.

However, it will be very accessible to backyard astronomers. A good pair of binoculars or an amateur telescope will let you see it's disk shape and maybe even some surface details. During its last approach, I was able to spot one of the polar ice caps. I'll be out again this time around.

If you have a telescope you haven't used yet (you know who you are), this is a great time to try it out.

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