During July stargazers are in for a cosmic treat when the two closest planets to Earth – Mars and Venus, meet up to make an impressive spectacle.
On the 12th, the evening star (Venus) will be just 1° from the red planet (Mars). Joining them will be the thin slither of the crescent Moon, forming a very pretty, evening trio.
The Venus and Mars show doesn’t end there. The following night they will be just 0.5° apart and will continue to hang-out together until the 15th.
It’s easy to tell which planet is which because Venus glows very bright and Mars has a red glow. This is due to Mars being covered in a fine dust of iron oxide, the compound that gives rust its red colour. Mars is literally rusting.
After a busy day it is very calming to gaze upon the night sky and fun to pick out a few planets. Make the time to go out and look up at nature’s astronomical wonders. It is a window out to the incredible and mysterious cosmos beyond.
When to look: 12 July, just after sunset and very low on the western horizon.
Stargazers Club WA runs telescope classes and stargazing events: www.stargazersclubwa.com.au.