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Astro-Porn of the Day: Mars Attacks!

Well, anyhow it's at its closest approch for the next four years, at less than 100 million km. You might have noticed it blazing a steady orange overhead, not long after sunset, in the constellation Cancer (click here to see a sky-chart that shows where to look). If you have a moderate-sized home telescope, you could see it like this:


Click the image to see the story; taken by Joel Warren using an 11" telescope.


If you're not using a telescope, be sure to get out on Friday night, when the full Moon and Mars are just a few degrees apart - coincidentally, also when Mars is at opposition (opposite the Sun from us, so the Sun, Earth, Moon, and Mars will all line up) and when it's closest to us. It rises with 2010's first full Moon at sunset (as always with a full Moon), and both will shine overhead at midnight.

If you checked it out in 2003 for the last close approach, you got an even-more dramatic sight, as its elongated orbit brought it about twice as close! We'll have to wait a few thousand years to see it like that again, so in the meantime, this is as good as it gets for years!

Chris

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