At the moment Mars is shining very brightly in the sky, and if you look for it at about 9pm, it will be very close to the moon.  It is so bright that you can’t really miss it and can even be seen clearly when the full moon is shining brightly. Mars is at its closest to the Earth at the moment which is why it is a great time to get out and view the planet through either binoculars or a telescope.

I noticed it a couple of nights ago when I decided to have a look at the sky at about 9pm. Whilst looking around I spotted a very bright and red star just under and to the left of the almost full moon. At first I thought it was Betelgeuse or Aldebaran (both red giants) but as I scanned the night sky further, I picked these up further to the South East from where I was standing. So I consulted my astronomy book and found that it was actually Mars shining bright and red in the sky.  I had never seen it so red before, so I went in and got some binoculars to take a closer look (I didn’t have immediate access to my telescope at the time). I was quite amazed to be able to make out the North Polar Cap of the planet as it was shining brightly, and some of the darker mountain regions. I spent several minutes gazing at Mars and it was great!

A couple of days later, after a lot of rain, I got my telescope out ready to take a look, only for the sky to cloud over on a couple of occasions. When I did finally manage to get a glimpse between clouds, Mars wasn’t as red or as bright unfortunately. Through the telescope I couldn’t see too much at all and nowhere near the detail that I saw through my binoculars, which was a great shame. It was probably due to the Moon being completely full and the brightest I had seen it for a long time, and also because it was literally to the right of Mars. The glare of the Moon was too much to see Mars properly.  Whilst I was out there, I did get a good look at Venus again before it crept over and behind the roof of my house!

Here is an image of Mars that I have found that is closest to what I saw through my binoculars –

The Planet Mars

The Planet Mars

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