Friday, July 27th, is a big night for astronomy. Three reasons: First, Mars will be at opposition -directly opposite the sun and making a 15-year close approach to Earth. Second, Mars and the full Moon will be in conjunction – less than 10 degrees apart. Third, the Moon will pass through the shadow of Earth, producing the longest lunar eclipse in a century:
People in North America will not be able to see the eclipse. The shadow play happens mostly on the opposite side of the world. They can, however, witness the conjunction. Swinging a backyard telescope between the Moon and Mars in quick succession will reveal the dusty-red martian disk alongside lunar mountains and craters. It’s a special night. Enjoy the show!