Saturday, January 2, 2010

Red Planet Rising


Happy New Year everyone! I wish all a safe, healthy and prosperous 2010 as we come into the second decade of the 21st Century!

2009 was a great year for space exploration as space and water telescopes dominated. Water was proven to exist on the Mars and Moon and is thought to be present in moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Hubble Space Telescope was upgraded and repaired and NASA's planetary hunting space telescope Kepler and newest infrared space telescope WISE were launched. Much will be happening in space this year and you will be capable to read all about it right here.

Mercury comes into sight the third week of the new year in the morning sky 45 minutes or so before sunrise. Prime time for the planet will be from the 15th to 30th when it will be about a fist-width above the eastern horizon. To see Mercury you require an unobstructed view of the horizon.

NASA's MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft has given us the most complete coverage ever of the planet closest to the Sun.

Venus remains out of view as it is too close to the Sun to be seen, but will begin to be visible next month at sunset.

Mars will be in the eastern evening sky rising at about 7 p.m. and will be at its brightest for the next 2 years. The Red Planet will be nearby to Earth on January 27 at a distance of 61.7 million miles. This is a much farther closest approach distance compared to 2003 when Mars was about half that distance from earth. Mars is effortless to spot as it is a bright dull orange color. Use the nearly Full Moon, which will be to the right of Mars, on the January 2 and again on January 29 as a guide to discover the Red Planet.


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