The night sky now belongs to Mars

First published in Opinion The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by

JUPITER is now dropping into the evening twilight after dominating the night sky for months, and the space station won't be back in the evening sky until June, so what can we see?

The night sky now belongs to Mars, the famous Red Planet, and a quick glance at it proves that it deserves its nickname: it really does shine with an orange red glow. Its ruddy hue is much more striking in binoculars, if you have a pair.

Mars is brighter than usual right now because it is closer than usual, so any clear night for the next few weeks try and see it. Mars rises as the Sun sets, so is quite high in the sky and obvious to the naked eye by around 11pm. The blue star Spica shines to its lower left. As you gaze at Mars, remember that there are two robot rovers driving around on it right now. They send back stunning images of its rocky, cratered landscape every day, which you can view online for free. Sometimes they photograph Earth, shining in the martian sky, so if you look at Mars wave and say ‘Cheese,’ just in case they're taking your picture.

Stuart Atkinson, Eddington Astronomical Society of Kendal

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