Astronomy Picture of the Day

Mars and the Star Clusters

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Mars and the Star Clusters


This evening's skyscape includes a view similar
this one
, recorded in western skies on April 16 - an orange-hued
planet Mars wandering near rich open star
cluster M35.

Also notable is fainter star cluster
NGC 2158,
just above and left of M35.

The grouping appears near the "foot stars" of the
constellation Gemini,
but of course Mars is in the foreground, just over 14
light-minutes from planet Earth.

The hundreds of stars in cluster M35 are more
like 3,000 light-years distant.

NGC 2158 is farther still, about 16,000 light-years away and
is much more compact than M35.

The color
image shows off the contrast between hot blue stars
and cooler yellowish stars within the confines of M35.

But the stars of NGC 2158 are much older,
and that cluster's light is definitely
dominated by the orange glow of cool giant stars,
making an interesting
visual comparison to ruddy-colored Mars.

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