The bright red planet Mars is a special guest in our evening skies. For nearly two years, the planet has been fairly faint, hard and inconvenient to find. But right now, while the planet is in opposition, it shines brightly on center stage.
Tomorrow night, the gibbous moon will appear near the red planet. The two will be high in the southeastern sky as night sets in. As the evening progresses, the two move together across the southern sky. The two are in the zodiacal constellation Virgo, a constellation we associate with spring and early summer.
Mars is already losing a bit of its brilliance. Early in April, Mars was 57 million miles away. Right now, the planet is 65 million miles away.
Planets Saturn and Jupiter are so large that their brightness doesn’t change much from season to season or from year to year.
Saturn is now in opposition which means it is both close and easy to see. The full moon appears near the planet next Wednesday and Thursday nights. Saturn is in the zodiacal constellation Libra, a constellation that appears in our southern sky. If you haven’t yet seen this planet, use the moon as a guide.
Even with a low-powered telescope you will be able to Saturn’s rings.
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