Mars and Venus viewable on Halloween

It looks like I’ll need to break out my telescope for the kids on Halloween, as both Mars and Venus will

glow brightly on Halloween, with Mars not been this close in 60,000 years. “In the late-day glow of the western sky, starting about 30 minutes after sunset and extending thereafter, you can find the planet Venus. It is perhaps the easiest planet to identify, especially this Halloween, because, with the absence of the moon, Venus will shine in a brilliant yellow and should be pretty much by itself in the sky at twilight. … You can watch Venus until about 8 to 8:30 p.m., depending on whether you have a clear view of your western horizon. If you’re looking at Venus about that time, simply turn around and face the opposite direction to find a second stellar treat: the planet Mars.”

This picture was sent to me by a friend who lives in The Loop in Downtown Chicago. Why is this pertinent? He shot it in September from the balcony of his condo on the 15th floor! (yes ladies, he is single) “Like Venus, Mars will appear yellow, perhaps with a touch of orange, and will outshine everything in its general vicinity. Because of its close approach this year, Mars will be almost as bright as Venus, which is a rare occurrence. Mars will not always approach Earth so closely because of the slightly elliptical nature of both planets’ orbits around the sun. This year, Mars’ nearest point to the sun will more closely coincide to Earth’s farthest point from the sun. The result will be an extremely bright appearance of Mars. Under magnification, Mars may appear as a small, ruddy ball – because the planet is only half the size of Earth and is 43 million miles away. Features on the planet should be visible, however, if you own a telescope with a 6-inch aperture. Mars is the only planet in the solar system where surface features can be viewed from Earth.”

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