NICK STROBEL: Mars looming large as it heads toward opposition | Entertainment

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Saturday is the free public star celebration on the Park at River Walk hosted by the Kern Astronomical Society. Observing will start just a little earlier than sundown with trying on the waxing gibbous moon. As the sky darkens, check out Venus and Jupiter after which Saturn. Toward the top of the star celebration (about 10 p.m.), you would possibly have the ability to see Mars by means of the telescopes.

Mars rises simply after sundown Saturday evening. It is heading toward “opposition” on July 27 when Mars will likely be immediately reverse the solar on our sky as Earth passes immediately between the solar and Mars in our inside orbit. This occurs each two years and 50 days (or a complete of 780 days). Since the timing of opposition is 50 days off from an actual two 12 months timeframe and each Earth’s and Mars’ orbits will not be good circles and their orbits are tipped with respect to one another (and, and …), some oppositions are nearer than others.

Every 15 or 17 years, Mars’ opposition occurs close to its perihelion, when the planet is closest to the solar. At these oppositions, Mars can get particularly near us and seem very vibrant, even brighter than Jupiter! That occurs this 12 months. The earlier “perihelic opposition” occurred in late August 2003. The 2003 opposition was extraordinarily shut — the closest in practically 60,000 years (59,619 years to be extra exact). This month’s shut strategy will likely be about three % farther away (or about 1.1 million miles) than the 2003 shut strategy.

You’ll in all probability see the “Mars Hoax” showing quickly (if not already) in your electronic mail or in your favourite social community website that claims Mars will seem as large as the total moon. The hoax pops up round each Mars opposition. If Mars truly received that shut to look as large as the moon, the tides from Mars can be about 86 % the power of the tides from the moon, which might actually mess up the ocean tides world wide, to not point out messing up the orbit of the moon across the earth and altering our orbit across the solar. The Mars Hoax is simply plain dangerous on a wide range of ranges.

So what kind of issues on Mars will you have the ability to see by means of the KAS telescopes at this shut strategy? As I write this, Mars remains to be within the throes of a world mud storm, so the reply is perhaps, “not much beyond a big orange fuzz ball with a hint of a white polar cap.” If the storm clears up, then you can see all types of sunshine and darkish options. The Mars Profiler from Sky & Telescope at https://is.gd/marsprofiler will enable you determine the options.

If Mars is washed out, then check out Saturn, which is all the time stunning, or Jupiter. Hercules will likely be excessive overhead, so the globular cluster, M13, will likely be straightforward to see. It’s a favourite of mine. The Ring Nebula in Lyra may even be excessive up.

Pyrenees star celebration, different enjoyable in France

I had the possibility to see M13 and the Ring Nebula throughout a brief (too brief!) star celebration on the Pic du Midi Observatory three weeks in the past. The tour of the observatory was a part of a planetarium convention in France. The observatory, positioned within the Pyrenees in southern France, is over 9,400 ft elevation and the air could be very steady, so the pictures are sharp. One of the telescopes at Pic du Midi was used to take high-resolution photos of the moon in preparation for the Apollo missions.

When our group arrived on the ski village on the base of the mountain, we have been fairly apprehensive as a result of the sky was overcast grey and misty. We took a gondola up the slope by means of the clouds. When we rose above the clouds into wonderful sunshine, applause and shouts of pleasure broke out. We received to see an attractive sundown however needed to depart earlier than the sky received really darkish. I came upon that it’s attainable to lease a room on the observatory and the meals and wine are glorious, so my subsequent go to will likely be an all-nighter (or two).

Along with the same old shows about planetarium tools and methods, there have been some astronomy analysis talks. One speak was about the way forward for interplanetary missions by means of 2068. That 12 months was chosen as a result of it contains the subsequent passage of Halley’s Comet by means of our neighborhood (in 2061) and 2068 would be the centennial of the film “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

One of the cool plans inside the subsequent 50 years is to ship a 3D printer to a small asteroid and have it use the asteroid’s materials to create the rocket engines on the asteroid’s floor and residing quarters contained in the asteroid, so the asteroid rock can present the shielding from the photo voltaic radiation. Many asteroids have a large quantity of hydrated minerals from which water may be extracted. If the expertise may be developed, we can’t must carry large lots of fabric from Earth’s floor and we will hop, skip, and soar our manner across the photo voltaic system!

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