Mars reached opposition to earth this week, allowing New Delhi sky watchers an excellent chance to see the Red Planet at its closest point.
As the Earth and Mars make their respective trips around the Sun, their positions with respect to each other change constantly. These positions occasionally fall into a straight line with each other and the Sun. Opposition is one such straight line, happening when the Earth lies directly between Mars and the Sun.
Mars and the Earth are closest to each other at this time; the nearness of the Red Planet to us increases both its brightness and size. For the period around 2010’s opposition, look for Mars to have a magnitude of -1.3, almost as bright as Sirius (the brightest star in the sky). Through even a small telescope, Mars appears as a reddish disc. Around the time of opposition, that disc reaches a maximum size – perfect for viewing surface features like the Martian icecaps.
Our very own neighbor moon is at its closest approach to earth also being the second full moon of the month it is also a Blue moon for India on January 30th. The Amateur Astronomers Association Delhi (AAAD), Nehru planetarium has decided to take the red planet and the blue moon to the public. We are setting up our telescopes for public view of Mars and Moon at the intersection of Mann singh road and Rajpath near India gate 7pm onwards on Saturday, January 30th 2010. It will be a totally free of cost public watch and is being done to generate interest to science in the society thereby fulfilling our fundamental duty to spread scientific temperament among fellow citizen. You are most welcome to attend this public watch and spread the word about it