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Red planet and reddish moon

By Ronald Williams

On Friday night, October 2, the harvest moon, turned pink by smoke from the fires, slipped very close to the red planet Mars at 10pm with only about 1 degree of separation. It is less than the width of your little finger held at arm’s length. Not only were they so close, but Mars was about twice as bright as usual as it is only a few days away from its closest approach to Earth on October 6. This makes it a dazzling bright red, rivaling Jupiter. On October 13, Mars will reach “opposition” when the Sun, Earth and Mars form a straight line in space. So it will be exactly opposite to the Sun in the terrestrial sky: it will rise at sunset, reach its highest point at midnight, then set at dawn, right in front of the Sun.

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