Archive for June 22, 2021

06/22/2021 – Ephemeris – Mars is poised to cross in front of the Beehive Star Cluster tonight

June 22, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Tuesday, June 22nd. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 34 minutes, setting at 9:32, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:57. The Moon, 2 days before full, will set at 4:41 tomorrow morning.

Tonight, the planet Mars will be at the western edge of the Beehive star cluster. Tomorrow night, Mars will be seen against its stars. Normally, the Beehive star cluster is easily seen in binoculars. The problem is, that both the cluster and Mars will be low in the west-northwestern sky, only six to seven degrees above a sea or lake horizon near the optimal time to spot them of 11 pm. It has been 8 months since Mars was opposite the Sun in our skies, and relatively close to us. Back then it was as bright as Jupiter and relatively close to the Earth. Now, Mars is 221 million miles (356 million kilometers) and 5 times farther aw0ay, about half the distance to Jupiter. It’s tiny in telescopes and very hard to pick out of the dim twilight glow of 11 pm.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT-4). They may be different for your location.


Mars passing in front of M44 animation

Mars passing in front of M44 as a GIF animation. This is difficult to spot with binoculars low in the west-northwest at 11 pm on the nights of June 22nd, 23rd and 24th. The Beehive star cluster is a relatively close and sparse cluster. On dark nights in early spring, the cluster looks like a fuzzy spot to the naked-eye. It reveals its true nature in binoculars. Created using Cartes du Ciel.