Saturn, Antares, and Mars

Hey, sky fans! Happy June to you and yours. I don’t have a ton to say at the moment, but the skies finally cleared, so I wanted to share this shot I grabbed of the skies to the southeast near my house at around 11pm last night. Since the Earth’s day is four minutes short of 24 full hours, the stars get to the same spot in the sky they were the night before four minutes earlier each day. Over time, these minutes add up. This, I say, this returning of the stars to the same spot in the sky, is called a sidereal day. So, Mars, Saturn, and Scorpius, along with their names printed alongside them, which were rising dangerously late a couple weeks ago are now just…. well… maybe brush your teeth first, and then go out to look. They’re getting easier to see now.

Earlier this week, Mars’s and Earth’s orbits reached their closest points to each other for this go-around as the Earth, which moves faster, sped by. This puts Mars less than 50 million miles away, and very bright. Saturn, too, which is often confoundingly dim—you try reflecting light from a billion miles away back another billion miles—is getting brighter, too. It’ll reach opposition, the point in it and Earth’s orbits when it’s directly opposite the Sun from the Earth, tomorrow night into Friday, and will be bright and in really good viewing if you have a telescope, though no Jupiter. Clear skies, everyone!

Saturn, Antares, and Mars in the southeast sky, 11pm May 31, 2016

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