Friday, June 03, 2005

Martian invasion

Just in time for the premiere of Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds...

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Mars is approaching. In 2003, at its point of opposition (the point when a planet is directly opposite the Sun as seen from Earth) Mars was closer to Earth than it had been in 5000 years. It won't come this close to Earth for another 60,000 years.

Although the 2005 Mars opposition won't be quite as close (about 25 percent farther away), the view for people in the Northern Hemisphere may actually be better because Mars will be higher in the sky, and much further north than it was in 2003.

Sky and Telescope:
Mars will be closest to Earth on October 30th and at opposition on November 7th. It will not appear as bright — or as large in a telescope — as it did during its 2003 opposition, but it’ll certainly be a red beacon in a constellation that’s otherwise devoid of bright objects.

There's more of an explanation about this opportunity to view Mars in this 2003 Sky and Telescope article, and this National Geographic article, which described the absolute closest point Mars had come to Earth.

There's more about War of the Worlds here.

The Orson Wells radio broadcast can be found here.

And some nice stills here.


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