Astronomy Picture of the Day



Mars in View

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#104923 by @ 07.12.2007 00:00 - nach oben -
Mars in View


Explanation:

Very good telescopic
views of Mars can be expected in the coming
weeks as the
Red
Planet
nears opposition on December 24th.

Of course, opposition means opposite
the Sun in planet Earth's sky -
an
arrangement
that occurs every 26 months for Mars.

Because
of
Mars'
more elliptical orbit, the actual
date of closest approach to Earth will be December 18,
when Mars will be within about 88 million kilometers of
our fair planet.

Situated in the constellation Gemini and rising after evening twilight,
the bright, ruddy disk of Mars will reach nearly 16
arcseconds in diameter
(about 1/100th the diameter of the Full Moon).

In this already exceptional image taken on November 18, north is down
and surface markings around the sprawling, dark, albedo feature
Syrtis Major
are remarkably clear.

The image was recorded with a video camera and filters on a 1 meter
telescope at
Pic Du
Midi
, a mountain top observatory in the
French Pyrenees.

Taking advantage of the shorter travel distance near opposition,
NASA launched
the Phoenix
lander to Mars in August, scheduled to arrive in May 2008.




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