Over the next week or so check out the planet Mars as it positinos itself next to the beautiful Beehive cluster (M44). The pair will easily fit inside the view of an average pair of binoculars. Both call the constellation Cancer – the crab – their home and are easy to track down in the southwest these nights. While Mars looks like a bright orange coloured star to the naked eye -thanks to the planets iron oxide rich deserts – surface details can only be seen under high magnification in medium sized telescopes. The Beehive cluster however can be glimpsed easily from a dark sky location without optical aid, but really looks like a swarm of bees when you magnify the 500 light year distant cluster even a little. The cosmic odd couple are now only separated by about 1.5 degrees – equal to 3 full Moon disks. By Wednesday and Thursday nights the Moon will join in on the fun and pass just underneath them; making for a pretty show.
Tags: Beehive, M44, Mars
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