Monday, March 24, 2008

Mars is on the move

After several months of lurking near the Gemini-Taurus-Auriga borders, Mars makes its move to the east. On March 28, 29, and 30, the Red Planet glows next to the not-so-bright star Mebsuta in Gemini. Try using binoculars to separate the pair. By April 16, it sits next to another little known star, Wasat. Again, bring out the binoculars to split them.

An isosceles triangle is formed on April 27 when Mars begins to pass Pollux and Castor. All three of these objects have about the same brightness. Mars continues for another week when it then lines up with the twins, making for a triplet!

Such is our view from Earth...

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Inner Planets, pt. 2

Mercury is often difficult to spot, but not now — if the skies are clear. In the first part of March, the solar system's smallest planet appears in our dawn sky close to the-easily-viewed Venus. Look to the southeast at about 6:10 to 6:15 a.m. for bright Venus poking above the horizon. Much dimmer Mercury lies to its upper right. Binoculars will help you discover this diminutive world.

Good hunting!

Such is our view from Earth...