Moon and Mars to be at their brightest this Christmas eve

December 24th, 2007 - 12:43 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Dec 24 (ANI): This Christmas eve would see both the Moon and Mars shining exceptionally bright, a report in Discovery News has indicated.

On the late evening of December 24, there would be a 98 percent full moon and Mars will appear extraordinarily bright as well.

According to the report, the moon will shine down from a height that it will not see in another 16 years.

Here, the height of the moon refers not to its distance from Earth, but to the angle at which it rises in the sky. Because the moon’s orbit takes it on a zigzag course above and below Earth’s equator, the full moon can sometimes ride rather low in the midnight sky or soar almost directly overhead.

The angle is important because a higher moon pours light more directly down, concentrating onto smaller pieces of ground, the report said.

On the other hand, the Red Planet’s exceptional glow will be due to it reaching what’s called opposition, which means it is exactly lined up with the Sun and Earth.

Though Mars will be at opposition, it will not be at its closest approach to Earth. The Red Planets closest approach was back on December 18 when it was 55 million miles (88 million km) away.

“If you have a pair of binoculars around you might want to turn them towards the heavens,” said astronomy educator Judy Stanley of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s Very Large Array in Socorro, New Mexico.

According to Stanley, there might be more spectacles to observe in the sky on Christmas Eve.

“If you go out right after sunset, you are going to see satellites and one or two shooting stars,” Stanley told Discovery News.

It’s best to be patient and give your eyes time to adjust to the darkness, or you’ll miss the show, she added. (ANI)

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