This morning Mars was less than 1o from the 2nd magnitude star Graffias, one of the stars marking the pincers of Scorpius the Scorpion. Over the next several days Mars will continue moving along its orbit toward the east coming closer to the planet Saturn, and the ‘rival of Mars’, the heart of the scorpion, the reddish star Antares.
Antares owes its name to its near matching color of the reddish colored planet Mars. I have often described the name Antares origin as meaning ‘anti mars’, to distinguish the star from the planet. Sort of like saying at times like now when they are close that ‘that reddish object is not Mars’. However the name Antares from the Greek really means ‘equal to Mars’
This part of the sky, the summer sky for the northern hemisphere, has probably the best view of the Milky Way so it is with a great deal of excitement that as Mars approaches Antares and Saturn Mars is moving closer to the Milky Way. However as this graphic shows the path of Mars takes an expected turn, so to speak, as Mars begins its retrograde motion on April 17th.
Follow the 2016 Retrograde Motion of Mars.
Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.