Moon glides by bright star, Mars next week before dawn

July 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.

The video will load shortly

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: Moon, Mars bright lights in the big sky

Related Stories

Moon, Mars bright lights in the big sky

December 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 4, 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

November 2, 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 will brighten ...

STAR TRAK for November: Jupiter and Leonid meteor shower

November 5, 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 to southwest. ...

Close Encounter with Mars

January 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

Camera on NASA's Lunar Orbiter survived 2014 meteoroid hit

May 26, 2017

On Oct. 13, 2014 something very strange happened to the camera aboard NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), which normally produces beautifully clear images of the lunar ...

SDO sees partial eclipse in space

May 26, 2017

On May 25, 2017, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, saw a partial solar eclipse in space when it caught the moon passing in front of the sun. The lunar transit lasted almost an hour, between 2:24 and 3:17 p.m. EDT, ...

Collapsing star gives birth to a black hole

May 25, 2017

Astronomers have watched as a massive, dying star was likely reborn as a black hole. It took the combined power of the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT), and NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes to go looking for remnants ...

1 comment

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.