Monday, June 30, 2008

Mars greets Regulus

Tonight, Mars reaches its closest apparent distance to the bright star Regulus in Leo. In the image above, Mars and Regulus are the two starlike objects near the bottom of the scene. Mars can be seen as being the redder of the two.

Tomorrow night, Mars will have moved slightly above Regulus as it begins its approach to Saturn on July 10. Saturn is the bright object to Mars and Regulus' upper left.

Such is our view from Earth ...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Early morning scene

Monday morning, before dawn brightens in the east, the Moon floats next to the Pleiades star cluster. Look to the east after moonrise at 3:30 a.m. The Moon, full with Earthshine, glows just to the lower left of the Pleiades as they rise higher. Use binoculars to pick out the cluster's individual stars popping out behind the Moon's dark side. Does the Lunar light overpower the tiny cluster? By 5:15, the brightening twilight washes out the Pleiades, leaving only the crescent Moon.

This is the same Pleiades cluster that Mercury was position near just two months, but in the early evening sky. Since then, the Earth has moved 1/6 around the sun, giving us a slightly different perspective in relationship to the sun's location on the celestial dome.

Such is our view from Earth ...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mars on the move, 6/23

From our perspective on Earth, Mars is moving through the constellation Leo approaching the bright star Regulus. In the image above, Mars is to the lower right of Regulus. Saturn is to the upper left of Regulus. Can you notice that the color of Mars is ruddy? Keep looking over the next two to three weeks to see Mars pass Regulus, then Saturn.

Such is our view from Earth ...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Mars moving toward Regulus

Over the next few weeks in our western sky after twilight ends, Mars approaches the bright star Regulus, then Saturn. Tonight, Mars will be equidistant from Regulus as Saturn is but on Regulus's opposite side. The Red Planet will not be as bright as Regulus, which is not as bright as Saturn. By June 30 Mars moves next to Regulus and by July 10 it passes Saturn.

Look about 10:30 p.m. in the west for this trio.

Such is our view from Earth ...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

International Space Station and Shuttle, together again

On Friday June 6 beginning at 10:21:15, the International Space Station — with the Space Shuttle attached — can be seen as a starlike object in the northwest. It will appear to the right of the cresent Moon and will brighten signifcantly as it passes nearly overhead at 10:24:11, near the bright star Arcturus. At this point, it will be brighter than any object in the sky, except the Moon. It should be as bright as Jupiter, which rises in the southeast at 11:30 p.m. The ISS/Shuttle disappears into the Earth's shadow 14 seconds after passing Arcturus.

On Sunday June 8, the ISS/Shuttle combination can be seen again, this time in brighter skies. Look to the northwest for them to come into view at 9:30:17 p.m. They reach maximum brightness when they are overhead at 9:33:10. They disappear after 9:35 as they near the southeastern horizon to the left of Antares.

When they are at their maximum brightness near the star Arcturus, they are only about 225 miles above you.

Such is our view from Earth ...