Wed, Apr 09, 2014 - Page 4 News List

Brilliant Mars to grace eastern sky as it passes Earth

Staff writer, with CNA

The red planet Mars will appear brighter early today as it passes closer to Earth than it has in more than two years, the Taipei Astronomical Museum said.

Skywatchers can easily identify Mars by looking into the eastern sky, museum researcher Lee Chin said.

“Mars will look about 10 times brighter than usual,” Lee said, adding that the planet will be at its brightest at 5:03am today.

Even if astronomy buffs miss the chance today, Mars will remain brightly visible over the next two months or so because it moves relatively slowly around the sun, he said.

The planet’s apparent magnitude could go from 2 to minus-1.6, becoming as bright as Sirius, the museum said.

Apparent magnitude measures the brightness of a celestial body as seen by an observer on Earth and falls in value the brighter an object is.

The opposition of Mars — when the Earth passes between the sun and Mars and all three are arranged in a nearly straight line — occurs about every 26 months and marks the two planets’ closest proximity to each other.

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