from JudasChrist - Wednesday, August 20, 2003
accessed 1246 times
...Well, On August 27th the Red Planet will be closer 2 Earth than it has EVER been in the history of this Earth.
Just look in the east-southeast sky on any clear evening soon after darkness falls and you’ll see a fiery yellow-orange “star” blazing brilliantly.
Named for the Roman god of war, Mars is often called the Red Planet. But anyone who takes even a casual glance will see that it’s more like a yellowish orange — the color of a dry desert under a high sun. Mars is much like a desert, in fact, dry and covered in sandlike dust. So a desert under the sun is exactly what you’re looking at, since Mars is visible because of the sunlight it reflects our way.
From now into September, Mars shines with a topaz glow that is brighter than any other object in its region of the sky, except on those nights when the moon is in the general vicinity.
As with any unusually close approach of Mars to Earth, this one makes Mars appear exceptionally brilliant and indeed, from now into the early fall, Mars will easily outshine Sirius (the brightest of all stars) and even Jupiter (the planet normally second in brightness only to Venus).
Skywatchers should note, however, that to the naked eye Mars still appears as a point of light, not anything near as impressive as the moon. Telescopes are required to glimpse views of any features on the surface of Mars.
The setup By The Stars
On Aug. 28, Mars will reach “opposition,” the moment when the sun, Earth and Mars form a straight line in space, with Earth and Mars on the same side of the all-important star.
When a planet reaches opposition, it lies exactly opposite the sun in our sky: It rises at sunset, reaches its highest point in the sky at midnight, and sets at sunrise. To imagine this from above, envision the solar system as a giant racetrack. Earth is moving in the inner lane. Mars comes to opposition when the faster-moving Earth overtakes and passes the outer planet. Me (and MSN news)