Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tonight's Sky for January 22: Moon Meets Mars

New to astronomy? Want to see Mars but don't know where to look? Well, it's your lucky night as the waning crescent Moon will be right next to the Red Planet this evening.

To see Mars, just go out before sunrise and look low in the Southwest. The Moon is, of course, impossible to miss. As for Mars, it's that bright 'star' right next to Luna. The way to tell that Mars is a planet? Unlike stars, it doesn't twinkle thanks to the fact that it shines from reflected light.

Unfortunately, thanks to the fact that it is moving away from us, Mars reveals no surface detail in a telescope and the only way to tell that it is obviously not a star as the planetary disc is very evident at high powers. As for what this means, look at Mars and notice its clear-cut edges. Then swing to a star and notice its diffuse edges.

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