Astronomy & Space

See the Purple Planet’s encounter with the Seven Sisters at nightfall – Astronomy Now

March 28, 2019 • By

On 31 March at 4am BST, magnitude +1.Four Mars passes simply 3.1 levels south of the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters open star cluster within the constellation of Taurus. The Purple Planet units earlier than midnight as seen from the UK, so you must look to the west as darkness falls. Mars and the Pleiades lie inside the similar subject of view of typical 10×50 binoculars from 28 March by means of 1 April 2019. Notice the Purple Planet’s movement relative to the background stars – nearly two-thirds of a level per day. AN animation by Ade Ashford.

As I defined in a former observing story, the foremost planets are at the moment confined to the daybreak sky. However planet Mars, now eight months previous its memorably shut opposition of 2018, nonetheless manages to cling to the night sky because of its speedy easterly movement – presently amounting to about two-thirds of a level per day relative to the celebs.

The Purple Planet at the moment lies within the constellation of Taurus about 300 million kilometres distant, therefore its magnitude +1.Four gibbous disc measures simply 4.6 arcseconds throughout. Which means that a telescopic magnification of 400× is required to enlarge it to the identical dimension as the complete Moon seems to the unaided eye, which is why you might be unlikely to see any floor options in a typical yard telescope.

Nevertheless, there’s one wonderful motive that you must comply with the movement of Mars as March attracts to a detailed. For 5 consecutive evenings beginning Thursday, 28 March 2019, observers within the British Isles and Western Europe can see the Purple Planet and the Pleiades star cluster inside the similar subject of view of typical 10×50 binoculars. To get your finest views, look no later than the onset of nautical twilight (about 8pm GMT within the British Isles, or 9pm BST from 31 March when the clocks go ahead one hour).

The Pleiades, or Messier 45, are named after the Seven Sisters of Greek mythology. It’s arguably probably the most stunning open cluster within the sky and options in star lore all through the world. Referred to as Matariki to the New Zealand Māori, their helical rising in Might/June historically begins the Māori new yr. The 9 brightest bare eye stars are embedded in blue reflection nebulae (not simply seen visually) and concentrated in a subject simply over one diploma in diameter the place typical binoculars will present about 100 stars. Some 100 million years previous, the Pleiades are about 440 light-years from Earth.