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Friday, December 14, 2007

Mars: Red Planet Shines Brightest

There are those who we just can not help believe must have come for Mars. Then there is the Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus theory to further tie in the link Mars has with us here on planet Earth. Now Mars will be closer to Earth than ever before. This could work well for those requiring a quick return back to the planet Mars from whence they have come, but for the rest of us that simply means Mars is in reach of the Earth more closely from this month until the year 2016.

The Mar also known as the red planet has taken first position in the solar system as the brightest "star" in the evening sky. By 8 p.m. Mars rises above the atmospheric near the horizon and thereafter this planet will be at an altitude of approximately 30 degrees as seen from mid-northern latitudes.

Mars makes its closest to planet Earth debut on the evening of Dec. 18 (around 6:46 p.m. EST). The planet will at that time be 54,783,381 miles (88,165,305 kilometers) from Earth. Its opposition will be exactly opposite from the sun with Earth in the middle position six days later on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24. Mars will be most attention attracting on the night before Christmas Eve. On Sunday Dec. 23, a full moon and Mars will hail in the sky as cohorts that night. Mars is expected to then glimmer at magnitude -1.6 through Jan. 2, 2008 will surpass even Sirius as the brightest star.

So, get your telescopes out and ready for an eventful moment to behold here on Earth. Mars' bright polar areas and dark surface markings are to provide more than an eye full. The planet will be small in appearance and its details tricky to differentiate on nights with less visibility. A 4-inch telescope equipped with an eyepiece magnifying 120-power is recommended to best show Mars' diminishing north polar cap and several of its dark features on the nights when the atmosphere is balanced.

Act fast as by January 2008 Mars will disappear from Earth's neighborhood as speedily as it arrived. It will move from a distance of 56.7 to 72.3 million miles (91.2 to 116.3 million kilometers) thus grow fainter at approximate full magnitude, from -1.5 to -0.6. In spite of Mars' anticipated January departure from close proximately to Earth, it will remain in a great strategic view for future viewing no matter what. You won’t even have to get out of bed early for a peek as Mars will be conveniently visible due south just after 11.p.m. on New Year’s roughly by 8:45 p.m. at the end of January.

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