Mars to Shine Brighter This Summer Than It Has in 15 Years - Canadanewsmedia
Connect with us

Science

Mars to Shine Brighter This Summer Than It Has in 15 Years

Published

on


  • Over the course of the next several weeks, the distance between the Earth and the Red Planet will shrink.
  • Mars will be its brightest on the morning of July 31.
  • The next time Mars comes as close as it will this summer won't occur again until Sept. 15, 2035.

Stargazers are in for a treat in July as Mars makes it closest swing by Earth, making it appear brighter than it has since 2003. 

Over the course of the next several weeks, the distance between the Earth and the Red Planet will shrink as Earth passes between Mars and the sun. During the orbital fly-by, Mars will be its brightest on the morning of July 31.

In 2003, Mars came within 34.9 million miles of Earth, closer than it had ever approached in 60,000 years. This summer's show won't be quite as impressive as 2003, considering our neighbor planet will only be 35.8 million miles away at its closest. Still, backyard astronomers using telescopes should have a spectacular view of the Red Planet's unique features.

"This Martian pass in July will be almost as good as the ultra-close opposition on 2003," Dean Regas, an astronomer for the Cincinnati Observatory, told Mother Nature Network. "Mars will easily be visible to the naked eye. In fact, you will be hard pressed to miss it. It will look like a glowing orange beacon of light rising in the southeast after sunset. It'll be much brighter than any star, brighter than Jupiter, nearly as bright as Venus. And you'll see it every night for the next several months."

(WATCH: NASA Plans to Send a Helicopter to Mars in 2020

The appearance of Mars varies dramatically from year to year depending on the distance between the neighboring planets. It takes Earth 365.25 days to make its elliptical orbit around the sun, while Mars requires 687 days to complete its own elliptical journey. The distance between the two can vary wildly. One year, the planets may be relatively close while other years, they are as far-flung across the universe as they could ever be. In 2016, the planets were at opposite ends of their orbits with 47 million miles between them, making Mars appear very small. 

This NASA illustration shows how different Mars can look, depending on its distance to Earth.

(NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Mars is a small planet, with a diameter of just 4,219 miles compared to Earth's 7,922 miles. Typically, both the Red Planet and Jupiter can be seen in the predawn hours, with Jupiter and its massive 86,881.4 miles in diameter outshining Mars.  But, in July, Mars is expected to have its turn to outshine the Gas Giant because of its proximity to Earth, notes EarthSky. 

Interestingly, the brightest star in the sky, or planet as the case may be, is referred to as the "morning star" before dawn and the "evening star" after dusk. While Venus is always the brightest star in the night sky, Jupiter often gets the honor of being called the morning star since Venus tends to set long before dawn. For a few weeks in late July and early August, however, tiny Mars will have its turn to be the morning star. 

While the details of the surface of the planet will be more visible to those gazing through a telescope, the planet itself will be visible to the naked eye. Getting away from the light pollution of towns and cities always offers a better view of the night sky. 

In July, Mars rises after sundown in the east and will be second in brilliance only to Venus. The best time to view Mars and Jupiter together is before dawn in the western sky.

From the vantage point of New York City, Mars will rise July 30 at 8:25 p.m and will set at 5:18 a.m. on July 31, the day it will be at its brightest.

Mars will continue to shine brightly throughout August. 

The next time Mars comes as close as it will this summer won't occur again until Sept. 15, 2035.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

Thick Dust Clouds Spotted Near Martian Ice Cap

Published

on

By


ESA’s Mars Express took an incredible photo of dust clouds on Mars near the planet’s north polar ice cap in April 2018, shortly before a larger dust storm darkened the entire planet’s skies.

Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin/CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

A thick cloud of dust moves over the surface of Mars near the planet's north polar ice cap in a stunning photograph.

This June, a massive dust storm hit Mars, and before long, the storm had encapsulated the entire planet. But dust clouds are a common occurrence on Mars; before that storm, a smaller-scale tempest kicked up the impressive plumes in this new photo, taken in April by the European Space Agency's (ESA) Mars Express. The photoshows just how immense these clouds can get, with a thick dust cloud near the planet's north polar ice cap.

Dust storms happen on Mars most often during the southern summer season. At this time, the planet is closer to the sun along the elliptical Martian orbit, and the brightness increases the differences in temperature on Mars, which affect air movement on the planet. These temperature differences allow the Martian air to more easily lift dust particles on the surface, according to a statement from ESA.

However, while a planet-covering dust storm sounds terrifying, things aren't that chaotic on the surface. This is because storm wind speeds on Mars are usually less than half as fast as hurricane wind speeds on Earth. Additionally, because atmospheric pressure is so low on the Red Planet, even high-speed winds wouldn't do much damage to anyone on the planet. "You would probably feel a breeze, but it wouldn't be knocking you over," Michael Smith, who works at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, previously said to Space.com.

Mars Express captured this cloud using a high-resolution stereo camera on board. The dust storm that continues to rage on Mars is being imaged and monitored by five ESA and NASA orbiters, while NASA's Curiosity rover continues to collect data on the red, dusty surface.

Email Chelsea Gohd at cgohd@space.com or follow her @chelsea_gohd. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

Unique Armored Dinosaur Discovered In Utah

Published

on

By


The fossil reveals new details about the diversity and evolution of ankylosaurid dinosaurs

In 2008, researchers found the fossil of a remarkable armored dinosaur in southern Utah. The North American Late Cretaceous ankylosaurid dinosaur was covered in a smooth bony armor but it seems to be more closely related to ankylosaurids found in Asia than to ones that lived in northern America.

The new species of ankylosaurid dinosaur lived 76 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous Period and roamed the lost continent of Laramidia. Although many ankylosaurids dinosaur fossils have been found over the years in the southwestern US, the recent fossil offers the most complete skeleton of an ankylosaurid in the region. The fossil includes a complete skull, vertebrae and limb bones, as well as a perfectly preserved bony body armor.

The most interesting thing about this dinosaur is its spiky bony armor covering the skull and snout. These defining features make it look surprisingly similar to Asian ankylosaurids that originated in Asia between 125 to 100 million years ago.

“A reasonable hypothesis would be that ankylosaurids from Utah are related to those found elsewhere in western North America, so we were really surprised to discover that Akainacephalus was so closely related to species from Asia.” Co-author of the study Randall Irmis said in a statement.

A new analysis indicates that the diversity and evolution of armored dinosaurs in the region was the result of brief intervals of lowered sea level that allowed Asian ankylosaurid dinosaurs to immigrate to North America several times during the Late Cretaceous. Lower sea levels exposed the Beringian land bridge and allowed dinosaurs and other animals to move between Asia and North America, which led to the presence of two separate groups of ankylosaurid dinosaurs.

“It is extremely fascinating and important for the science of paleontology that we can read so much information from the fossil record, allowing us to better understand extinct organisms and the ecosystems they were a part of,” said lead author Jelle Wiersma.

“…Akainacephalus johnsoni; not only is this the first described and named Late Cretaceous ankylosaurid dinosaur from Utah, but this unique animal also strengthens the idea the evidence that distinct northern and southern provincialism existed during the late Campanian stage in Laramidia, because to date, we don’t see this type of ankylosaurid dinosaurs in the fossil record of northern Laramidia.”

Akainacephalus johnsoni has been assigned to a new genus. The genus name comes from the Greek words akaina, which means ‘thorn’ or ‘spike’, and cephalus, meaning ‘head.’ The other part of the name honors Randy Johnson, a dedicated museum volunteer who skillfully reconstructed its skull.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

This Massive Dust Storm Could Engulf Mars for Months

Published

on

By


Every six to eight years, massive dust storms can envelop Mars’s whole surface. NASA’s Martian probes are currently watching one unfold over the Red Planet. Scientists saw a small-scale dust storm begin on May 30th, and by June 20th, it’d gone “global,” engulfing the whole planet. For the NASA Opportunity rover, visibility dropped from that of a sunny day to an overcast one. Because the rover runs on solar energy, researchers suspended it to preserve its batteries. According to NASA, it could take as long as September before the dust starts to settle, and the Opportunity starts reporting back.

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

Meanwhile, numerous other Mars orbiters are helping scientists understand the dust storm. “This is one of the largest weather events that we’ve seen on Mars,” since spacecraft observations began in the 1960s, said Michael Smith, a scientist at NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center. Smith and other scientists are trying to understand how small, regional storms swarm to become such a large one. They’re also recording how the dust storm changes the planet’s atmospheric temperatures, which can change winds, which in turn can amplify the storm by stirring up more dust from the planet’s surface. “The very fact that you can start with something that’s a local storm, no bigger than a small [US] state, and then trigger something that raises more dust and produces a haze that covers almost the entire planet is remarkable,” said Rich Zurek, the project scientist for MRO, which maps the evolution of the storm daily in color images and atmospheric temperature.

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

Meanwhile, the Mars Curiosity is on a mission to acquire rock samples and study the storm from the surface of Mars itself, and another orbiter is studying Mars’ high atmosphere, 100 kilometers above the surface, where the dust doesn’t reach. Every time you see Mars in the sky in the weeks ahead, NASA advises, “remember how much data scientists are gathering to better understand the mysterious weather of the Red Planet.”

(via NASA)

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2018 Canada News Media

%d bloggers like this: