THE planet Mars will be in the headlines next Monday (November 26) because a NASA-built space probe will be landing on its surface, STUART ATKINSON.

Unlike the many landers and rovers that have gone before it, the robotic InSight lander will not be going to the Red Planet to take pretty pictures of its rocky, rugged surface; its mission is to study what's going on beneath the surface, making measurements that will help us understand the geology and history of this fascinating planet. However, it will take a few photographs of its landing site, and we can look forward to seeing those late on Monday evening or early on Tuesday - if all goes well and the prober lands safely. Mars' hobby is wrecking robots sent from Earth, so let's all cross our fingers for a safe landing.

Although it was much brighter and more obvious in the summer, when it looked like a vivid red-orange spark low in the sky right through the night, Mars is still easily visible in the night sky to the naked eye. To spot it just look to the south after darkness falls and there, halfway up in the sky, you'll see Mars, looking like an orange-white star, with very few other stars around it.

Much more impressive looking is Venus, which is a blazing bright morning star in the east before sunrise. It rises around 4.30am, long before the Sun, so we can enjoy the stunning sight of it shining in the dark sky before dawn. You simply can't mistake it for anything else.