Chris McKitterick (mckitterick) wrote,
Chris McKitterick

Astro-image of the day: Mars closes on Earth

This month, Mars reaches opposition; that is, closest to Earth at 0.60 AU or 56 million miles. Mars will not approach this close again until 2016. Mars rises just after sunset in December and is the brightest object in the sky. On the day of closest approach, Mars shines bright red near the full Moon.

Click the image to see more Mars photos.

If you go out with a telescope, you're in for a real treat this month. Mars is the only planet (besides Earth, smarties) whose surface is visible using an amateur telescope. It's full of exciting features: Even though it's only about half the size of the Earth, Mars has the highest mountains, biggest volcano, deepest and longest canyon, and vastest craters in the Solar System. Because Mars also has huge dust storms, most of these features are partially obscured by dust, so most of what you'll see through Earth-based telescopes is darker and lighter features. See if you can glimpse the dark feature Syrtis Major, as shown in this photo:

Click the image to see more Mars photos.

Tags: astronomy

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