Moon glides by bright star, Mars next week before dawn

Jul 22, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- The Moon puts on a great show before dawn next week as it passes by a bright star and planet, according to the editors of StarDate magazine.

The Moon stands closest to Aldebaran, the bright star known as the eye of Taurus, the bull, an hour before dawn on Tuesday the 26th in the eastern sky. The Moon shines next to in the east at the same time the following morning. Both Mars and Aldebaran glow orange, but right now Aldebaran is about twice as bright as Mars.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

Color is a rare commodity in the night sky. The sky itself is black, most of the stars are white, and the Moon is painted in shades of white, gray, and black.

Like a neon bulb, Aldebaran produces its own color. Cooler stars shine redder than hotter ones, and Aldebaran's surface is thousands of degrees cooler than the surface of the Sun. Other prominent reddish-orange stars include Antares (whose name means 'rival of Mars'), which puts in its best show during July and August evenings, and Betelgeuse, in Orion, which highlights the winter sky.

Mars doesn't generate any light on its own. Instead, like the , it shines by reflecting sunlight. The light strikes a surface that is painted in varying shades of orange, yellow, gray, and black. Most of the orange and yellow are produced by fine-grained dust that contains a lot of , better known as rust.

As Mars grows brighter later in the year, its color will appear to grow more intense. By year's end, you'll see why it is called the , as Mars provides one of the most vivid spots of color in the .

Published bi-monthly by The University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory, StarDate magazine provides readers with skywatching tips, skymaps, beautiful astronomical photos, astronomy news and features, and a 32-page Sky Almanac each January.

Explore further: Manchester scientists boost NASA's missions to Mars

Provided by University of Texas McDonald Observatory

5 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Moon, Mars bright lights in the big sky

Dec 24, 2007

The moon and Mars -- not the stars -- emitted enough wattage Monday to providing night travelers by sleigh and by foot a lighted way to their destinations.

STAR TRAK for May

May 04, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- After sunset each evening in May, look to the west-northwest to see the planet Venus as a beautiful "evening star," the brightest point of light in the sky.

STAR TRAK for November: Mars is prominent again

Nov 02, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Pumpkin-colored Mars will return to prominence during November, rising shortly before midnight at the beginning of the month and more than two hours earlier by month's end. The orange planet ...

STAR TRAK for November: Jupiter and Leonid meteor shower

Nov 05, 2010

Jupiter will be easy to see in the south as night falls in November. The best time to observe this bright planet with a telescope will be from dusk to midnight as it travels high across the sky from southeast ...

Close Encounter with Mars

Jan 26, 2010

It rises in the east at sunset, pumpkin-orange and brighter than a first magnitude star. You stare at it, unblinking. Unblinking, it stares right back. It is Mars.

Recommended for you

Orion on track at T MINUS 1 Week to first blastoff

11 hours ago

At T MINUS 1 Week on this Thanksgiving Holiday, all launch processing events remain on track for the first blast off of NASA's new Orion crew vehicle on Dec. 4, 2014 which marks the first step on the long ...

Bad weather delays Japan asteroid probe lift off

17 hours ago

Bad weather will delay the launch of a Japanese space probe on a six-year mission to mine a distant asteroid, just weeks after a European spacecraft's historic landing on a comet captivated the world.

Manchester scientists boost NASA's missions to Mars

Nov 27, 2014

Computer Scientists from The University of Manchester have boosted NASA space missions by pioneering a global project to develop programs that efficiently test and control NASA spacecraft.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Waterdog
not rated yet Jul 25, 2011
An observation on a statement in the article:

"Most of the orange and yellow are produced by fine-grained dust (on Mars) that contains a lot of iron oxide, better known as rust."

The Earth didn't get much iron oxide until after photosythetic algae started producing oxygen to precipitate it out of the ocean.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.