Celestial party planned for viewing Mars this month

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

On Wednesday August 27, the planet Mars will be at it's greatest opposition or at it's closest point to the Earth in 60,000 years. Mars will not reach this closeness again until 2287. To see Mars you will need to look low in the southeastern sky about 2 hours after sunset.

Even at it's greatest opposition (opposite the sun in the sky), Mars is still 35 million miles away but will be very bright and distinctly red in color.

It's magnitude may reach a -3. Dimmer objects have higher magnitudes and brighter objects have lower magnitudes. A full moon for example, has a magnitude of -13. The unaided eye can see objects as faint as a 5 or 6 magnitude. The magnitude of Mars is always an estimate because it's reflective surface features are constantly changing. These features would include it's polar ice caps and global dust storms. Mars is also known for it's

canals and volcanoes.

The Sanford Museum and Planetarium invites the public to come view Mars on the evening of Aug. 27, at the north end of the Cherokee Little League fields beginning at 9:30 p.m. Bring your binoculars, lawn chairs, and bug spray.

Fairgoers can see everything from a prom dress fashioned completely of duct tape to the kitchen sink when they visit the 4-H Exhibits Building at the Iowa State Fair this year.

They even can marvel at the workings of a restored manure spreader, empty and showroom clean, of course. The building is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. through August 17.