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2021, January: Mars Parades Eastward

Mars

Mars (NASA Photo)

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2020, January: Mars moves from Pisces into Aries. Find the planet high in the southeast after sunset.

After the October 2020 Mars opposition, Earth pulls away from Mars.  The Red Planet appears to move farther eastward compared to the starry background, and dims as the distance to the planet grows.

Find the planet high in the southeastern sky after sunset.  It is distinctly rusty in color and brighter than all the stars in its immediate surroundings.

During the month, Mars moves from the dim star field of Pisces into Aries.

It passes dim Uranus during January. A binocular is needed to see this planet’s brightness is near the limit of unaided human vision.  It is a blue-green “star.”  Some magnification with a telescope reveals the round, planet shape.  This is referred to as seeing the “planet’s disk.”

Three brighter stars, Hamal, Beta Arietis (β Ari on the chart), and Gamma Arietis (γ Ari),  are above the path of the planets.  The planet’s movement is easily observed compared to those stars.

To follow Mars daily progress, use a binocular to track its spot in the sky compared to the distant stars.

Here are some events to track:

2021, January 20: The moon is 7.3° to the lower right, of Mars. The Red Planet passes 1.6° above Uranus.

Here is the summary for Mars during 2021.

Super Martian Volcanic Eruptions

Newly released analysis from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows that the Arabia Terra region on Mars experienced powerful volcanic eruptions.

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