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View Full Version : Mars looks like a star



Kevinito
2004-Mar-25, 03:52 PM
I was looking at the stars this past Tuesday night aiming the scope to and fro, until I landed on the Seven Sisters. I noticed a unique red object to the west of the Pleiades. I aimed my 8" Nexstar toward the object and thought I discovered some new object that just appeared. No apparent disk was visible, even at high magnification (6mm). Thinking it was perhaps a supernova, I booted up my Linux workstation and loaded KStars to find (to my dismay) that the twinkling object was Mars. What surprises me is that Mars was so close just a few months ago . . . the brightest object in the night sky . . . now it has changed to a dull semi-reddish twinkling object in which no disk or features are visible through my scope. It must be moving quite fast!

-Kevin

Hamlet
2004-Mar-25, 04:01 PM
Actually we're the ones moving fast. The Earth orbits faster around the Sun than Mars so we've been "pulling away" since last August.

Go here (http://www.fourmilab.ch/cgi-bin/uncgi/Solar). Look at our relative locations now then plug in August 27, 2003 and see how the positions have changed.

Gmann
2004-Mar-25, 05:56 PM
Keep in mind it has been 6 months. In that time, the Earth has gone half way around the Sun, Mars only about 1/4. We are quite a distance away. Wait until next Oct/Nov time frame, Mars will become bright again, until then, there is a lot more to see, happy viewing. :D

Kevinito
2004-Mar-25, 07:48 PM
Actually we're the ones moving fast. The Earth orbits faster around the Sun than Mars so we've been "pulling away" since last August.


Yes, correction noted. :oops: Thanks!

-Kevin

planethollywood
2004-Mar-25, 11:50 PM
i was lucky enough to view Mars as we came close just recently, and the first thing i thought was, it kinda looks like it has canals. Also the south pole had i huge ice cap, much bigger than i expected.

I later learned this may have been a fog causing the effect. 8-[

Brady Yoon
2004-Mar-26, 02:43 AM
Yes, the brightness of Mars is extremely variable. It can, at the best oppositions, reach almost a magnitude of -3, but can increase all the way to 2. This is a factor of 100 times in brightness...