Sunday, August 5, 2012

Mars action this week

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NASA's Curiosity rover is scheduled to make its fiery landing on the surface of Mars this  Monday morning after it's  8 and a 1/2 month journey. Here is a great video,  "7 Minutes of Terror" explaining the seemingly crazy landing process which includes: heat shields, parachutes, retro rockets and a crane!

For those of us stuck on Earth, we can still watch Mars action,  without a robotic rover, nor  even a telescope. Mars is now low in the southeast right after sunset, and closing in on Saturn. Together with the bright star Spica ( of Virgo) they make a nice triangle at the beginning of this week.
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However, since mars is much closer to us that Saturn, we can watch its position change appreciably after only a few nights.

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Later in the month, mars will actually pass Saturn ( from our point of view) and the triangle will then point the other way. By Aug 21 the crescent moon will pass by to join our backward triangle.

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