Mars Near Spica

Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   Sunday evening, 13 July, at around sunset local time, or when the sky darkens enough to see some stars look toward the southwestern horizon, as this graphic shows, and look for a pair of stars. One will appear bluish-white – the star Spica in the constellation Virgo the Harvest Queen, while the reddish one is actually the planet Mars. The contrast in apparent magnitude is very noticeable as Spica has a 0.2 magnitude compared with the 1.0 magnitude Mars currently has (based on its distance from the Earth).50mm-eyepiece
   The pair will be about 1o from each other and will fit very nicely within the field of view of 7×50 binoculars, for example, as the above graphic shows. However with my 8″ Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope and a wide angle 50mm eyepiece the two still fit within the field of view, and even at a relatively low magnification Mars appears with a reddish-orange disk shape and the color of Spica stands out in contrast.

   
   
   
Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

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