Tasmania's journal of discovery

Mars closes in

Today, the planet Mars will be 69 million km from Earth — the closest it will be for the next 13 years.

Shevill Mathers, Leatherwood Online’s sky guru writes:

Astronomers around the world will be making the most of this close approach of the planet Mars.

The term ‘planet’ is not a scientific or astronomical term but has been used since early times to describe a ‘wandering star’.

Throughout history there has possibly not been another celestial body that has generated so much mystery, especially when the marking on the planet’s surface were described as ‘canals’ due to a mis-translation from an Italian paper describing these markings.

The ‘wanderings’ are now referred to as the planets orbit around the sun. Being an eccentric orbit,  Mars comes close to earth at intervals.

In the meantime, a new dust storm is brewing on Mars, and it’s a big one.

Longtime Mars observer Joel Warren reports: “This morning I imaged the most spectacular and intense cloud I’ve ever seen on Mars. The speed at which it developed is quite remarkable.”

In Racine, Wisconsin, Mark Schmidt saw it, too, and he took pictures through his 14-inch telescope; see below. The dust storm, denoted by black arrows, looks strangely like an octopus.

This is a great time to look at the planet through a backyard telescope. You can find Mars rising in the east at sunset. It looks like a intense pumpkin-colored star.

Next entry: Life and times of the giant squid

Previous entry: Harsh beauty

<< Back to main

STAY IN TOUCH. Sign up to be alerted when new content gets uploaded to Tasmania's online magazine. Enter your email address. We'll do the rest. We respect your privacy and this information will only be used for email alerts.

Pendragon Hall
Roaring 40s
Meadowbank Wines
Ruth Waterhouse jewellery
Slim Ink Book Rental
Mayfair on Cavell
Bush Beats: a walk on the mild side
Guided walks with experienced bushwalker and passionate naturalist, Alison Moore, who will interpret the secrets of the landscape and its living systems. Full day walks, half-day walks or two-hour walks.

Rod & Fly Tasmania
Mike Tanner, a 30-year veteran flyfisher, shares his skills at introductory classes, or guides the more experienced on Tasmania's renowned Central Highlands lakes. (03) 6266 4480

Attitude Taxis
Relax in luxurious leather seats as we deliver you in comfort to your destination. Airport transfers, Tours & Day Trips can be arranged. Call 0417 516 419 or 0409 783 343

Get Firefox!
Diamond Island
Norfolk Bay Convict Station

Tasmanian Jobs
Elizabeth College
Ray White Hobart
Book City Hobart
Stanton Bed and Breakfast
The magnificent convict-built country manor, Stanton, was built in 1817, and is situated on one of Tasmania's first land grant sites — 16 acres of pasture and orchards at Magra, in the heart of the historical and beautiful Derwent Valley.

Red Tag Trout Tours
Roger Butler leads this one-man Tasmanian guiding operation which caters to flyfishers, from all over the world, who share a common goal: getting a wild brown trout to hand.

Cobbers: mates on a mission
We've been looking at the future and it isn't working. But we can fix it, one blog at a time.

Bed and breakfast in Tasmania