Astro Bob: Mars has close brush with Venus at dawn – Duluth News Tribune

On a latest night time whereas moon-gazing with pals, I requested if anybody knew what vibrant planets have been out.

A younger woman answered Mars. She was half proper. Mars is all the time a logical selection as a result of it is acquainted, typically referenced in fashionable tradition and appealingly purple. However in the case of vibrant night planets all we now have proper now’s Jupiter, shining LED-like excessive within the southwestern sky at dusk.


Japan’s Akatsuki probe took this international picture of Venus in ultraviolet gentle. In common gentle the clouds are primarily featureless however in UV they reveal texture and construction. Venus is sort of the identical measurement because the Earth — simply 400 miles smaller — and certain had water overlaying a part of its floor earlier than a runaway greenhouse impact triggered all of it to dissipate.

Contributed / JAXA, ISAS, DARTS, Damia-Bouic

Mars is certainly seen however solely at daybreak. From mid-northern latitudes will probably be difficult to pick within the twilight glow for the following few weeks. However hey, no have to throw your fingers within the air. Venus arrives simply in time to level the best way. On Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, Feb. 21 and 22, Mars slides slightly below the much-brighter planet. You may want simply three issues to see the duo — a transparent sky, an unobstructed view to the southeast and binoculars.

Venus must be obvious 40-45 minutes earlier than dawn at a brief distance above the horizon. (Discover your dawn time at

). As soon as you’ve got discovered it, level your binoculars on the planet and focus sharply. Mars will probably be a tiny, orange twinkle of sunshine instantly under it. The 2 are formally in conjunction on Feb. 22, however they will be almost as shut the morning earlier than.

Mars Feb 19 2024

NASA’s Perseverance rover took this wide-angle picture of the Martian panorama in Jezero Crater on Feb. 19. Excessive temperatures on the web site over the previous few days have averaged round 6 levels above zero Fahrenheit and 103 levels under zero at night time. A Martian day, referred to as a Sol, lasts 24 hours 37 minutes.

Contributed / NASA, JPL-Caltech, ASU

Each planets are comparatively removed from the Earth proper now. Venus has been slowly approaching the solar for the previous couple of months because it strikes towards the alternative finish of its orbit from us. On June 4 the planet will move behind the solar from our perspective after which regularly return to view this summer time within the night sky.

Mars lies almost reverse the solar from Earth, so we view it from about as far-off as doable. This week the planet will probably be about 208 million miles (335 million kilometers) distant or greater than 6 instances farther than when Earth and Mars are closest.

Mars Venus conjunction

Venus and Mars seem shut to one another — in conjunction — as a result of we see them proper now alongside the identical line of sight.

Contributed / Bob King

That is why Mars appears to be like so faint compared to Venus. Not solely is it smaller by almost half and never as cloudy (clouds are nice reflectors of daylight), nevertheless it’s comparatively far-off. The 2 seem shut collectively as a result of we see them alongside the identical line of sight regardless of their vastly completely different distances.

Give Mars just a little time. It is slowly pulling away from the solar. Truly, the solar is pulling away from it, sliding a smidge to the east every day. This obvious — not actual! — movement is attributable to Earth orbiting the solar, which makes it seem as if the solar is shifting east alongside the zodiac. As the 2 separate, Mars will shine ever increased in a darker sky and change into simple to see with out binocular help. On the similar time, Earth is catching as much as the purple planet as a result of we orbit the solar quicker. Lowering distance will assist to brighten Mars within the coming months. By subsequent January it should gleam as brightly as Sirius.

Big sunspot group

A brand new, massive sunspot group is now in view and can spend the following 12 days or so crossing the photo voltaic disk. Sunspots are areas the place the photo voltaic magnetic discipline is strongly concentrated. Consider them as highly effective magnets.

Contributed / Bob King

Whereas on the subject of the solar, there is a large, new sunspot group that is rounding the jap fringe of the disk named area 3590. I hate to make predictions, however let’s hope it tosses just a few storms our method so we are able to see the northern lights once more quickly!

Bob King

“Astro” Bob King is a contract author and retired photographer for the Duluth Information Tribune. You’ll be able to attain him at


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