The planet Mars is quickly getting closer to Earth the next few weeks until January 27, 2010 when it will be only 99 million km away.
Backyard astronomers have been snapping some amazing photos of our neighbouring world showing surprising amounts of detail.
Check out this awesome animation put together from individual images taken by a Dutch stargazer on Dec.15th using only a 10 inch reflector. Tip of the hat to spaceweather.com for this cool find.
Unbeleivably you can actually see white clouds (smudges on the left limb of Mars) above three volcanoes in a vertical row. The lone white cloud to their right is a cloud covered Olympus Mons, the solar system’s largest volcano - 3 times higher than Mt. Everest!
Meanwhile the white area at the bottom of the disk is the water-ice and frozen carbon dioxide covered Martian south pole. Visible in the late night sky, orange coloured star-like Mars will get brighter and bigger in the telescope as it gets closer to Earth – making for a great target for backyard instruments. Stay tuned for more observing tips in the coming weeks.
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