Mars and Saturn – Last Night

Last night was a good night for observing with the sky over Sydney free of cloud.

I was going to take the scope out at 9pm but I decided on a change of plan. The Moon was not up as yet which was a bonus, but I wanted to have a look at Saturn and Mars which I knew would be up later on in the night.

Mars is of special interest this month as it will be at it’s closest distance to the Earth on the 27th of January. So pretty much any time you can see Mars this month and probably next month as well is a good time to observe the planet.

(Click to Enlarge)

At 3:45am I checked the sky and was happy to see the sky was still free of clouds. I went out side and did a visual look for what was available to see. The Moon was of course the first object I found, followed in order by the red orange light from Mars and then
Saturn. As you can see in the picture above, these 3 objects formed a triangle.

Now with the Moon having 88% of it’s surface lit made observation of both Mars and Jupiter a little diffacult as the Moon was in close proximity to the 2 planets. But by Friday this week, the Moon will be 36% lit so this will make the planet viewing a lot easier.

My biggest problem however was the position of all 3 objects. I put together the picture below to try and illustrate the problem I have.

All 3 objects are not directly overhead…. you have to look in a north north-easterly direction to see them at this time of the morning. My problem is that from my observation point, each of the objects will be behind trees and will be visible on occasion through gaps in the branches.

Not that observing Mars and Jupiter will be impossible….. but it will be more of a challenge.  Mars for example did not get above 37 degrees above the horizon so it will be more of a challenge to see than Saturn.

So my planned observing did not work out too well last night…. but I will work out a plan on how to see Mars in particular the next time we have clear skies….which looks like being after midnight tonight.

Mars Behind a Tree

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~ by sydneystargazers on January 5, 2010.

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