See Mars for the Holidays (originally posted for Dec. 2007)
Star chart by C.C. Petersen/TheSpacewriter.com
The holidays (all kinds of them) are upon us. Whatever you celebrate at this time of year, take a few moments to step outside and look up at the night sky. Orion should be prominent, and not far away, one horn of the Hyades (in Taurus) seem to point at the planet Mars. If you have binoculars or a small telescope, check out the Orion Nebula not far from the three stars that make up Orion’s belt. And, don’t forget to include the Pleiades in your stellar and planetary travels!
(Note: this post and map refer to the sky and Mars as seen in December 2007.)
Happy Holidays from TheSpacewriter.com
Ever hear of 2007 WD5? It’s all over the news right now, so I’m probably not telling you anything new about it, but just in case you’ve been out holiday shopping or traveling or hiding under a rock, here’s the scoop. 2007 WD5 is a 164-foot-wide asteroid that is moving in an orbit that will cross Mars’s orbital path in late January. It comes close enough to Mars that it will pass within 30,000 miles (48,000 kilometers) of the planet. It’s possible, although not likely, that this thing could actually smack into Mars’s surface. The chances are about 1 in 75. If it did, this rock (traveling at 30,000 miles per hour) would dig out a crater about the same size as the one that the Opportunity rover is exploring right now.