Join us tonight (Saturday July 21st for Sidewalk Astronomy at Monrovia's Library Park, Myrtle and Lime street corner, 7:30 p.m.until 9:30 p.m.

Mars will be be rising by about 9 p.m. and it is already at its brightest since the very best (in something like 50,000 years) 2003 closest approach, but will be low in the SE sky, higher closer to midnight, bnut never very high, and also that's too late for our sidewalk astronomers to be out. It's only a fraction larger this opposition, so beware of the hype.

There will be a magnificent parade of planets visible again tonight - but you can also see them from home!  Perhaps you've noticed them over the last couple of months - both at home and through telescopes or binoculars. There are four bright objects -- Venus low in the W, then eastward  Jupiter, Saturn and Mars spanning the W to the East. As Venus sets, Mars rises. You can see these planets without a telescope from your front or back yard! Tonight the moon is in the mix too.

Here is a gorgeous photo my JPL colleague Bill Dunford took of the planetary lineup from near his home in Utah last week.

My What's Up video this month is all about Mars Opposition July 27th and Mars closest approach July 31st.  Although we won't be out on the sidewalk during those nights, the planet will look just as big and bright tonight and almost just as big and bright next month for Sidewalk Astronomy in Monrovia. Sadly the planet never gets very high, even later in the night and will just peek above the buildings by our shut down time.

In 2003 when Mojo and I still lived in Northern California we drove to Borrego Springs to gain a few degrees of planetary altitude (and temperatures of 110 °, cooling to high 90 degrees by midnight).  I hinted last month that we are nostalgically repeating this road trip again this year, and if you want to join us in the extreme desert heat to view Mars near midnight from Borrego Springs on Friday and Saturday nights July 27 and 28 drop me a note, and I'll tell you where we'll be. (at a hotel parking lot, not out in the park someplace). There isno guarantee of weather, so it is completely weather permitting, and cancellation could be late Friday afternoon. 

Also next month August 11-13 is the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower, tho the week before and after will offer nice rates too!  That will be August's What's Up topic, then I have 4 more What's Up videos before I retire from JPL at the end of November!   Jane

Jane Houston Jones
@jhjones @otastro
Jane's What's Up video episode #133:
July 2018 - Mars Opposition!
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