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Wednesday, October 05, 2016


Mars Amongst the Clusters of the Teapot

Evening sky on Thursday October 6 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 21:00 ACDST. Venus, Mars, Saturn, Antares and the Moon form a stunning trail in the sky.  Mars is close to Kaus Boralis and is beginning its trek through the clusters in the lid of the celestial teapot. Similar views will be seen throughout Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen).A simulated binocular view of Mars near Kaus Borealis (the Lid of the Celestial Teapot) showing the globular clusters M28 and M22. (click to embiggen).

In early October Mars is in the “Teapot” of Sagittarius. Sagittarius lies across the heart of our galaxy, so as Mars moves through the “lid” of the teapot, it comes close to several bright stars  and several bright globular clusters.

On the 5th and 6th  Mars is close to the magnitude 6 globular cluster M28, on the 7th it is closest (at just half a lunar diameter) from Kaus Borealis, the star that forms the lid of the Celestial teapot. This is best seen in binoculars.

On the 8th it is closest (almost on top of)  to the 9th magnitude globular cluster NGC 6638 (best in telescopes) and on the 9th and 10th it is closest to the iconic magnitude 5 globular cluster M22. Although this is potentially visible to the unaided eye in dark sky sites, with the waxing Moon, binoculars or telescopes are best to see the pairing.

Black and white printable chart suitable for use with binoculars or telescopes. The large circle is the field of view of 10x50 binoculars, the small circles are  the FOV of a 30 mm eyepiece with a 114mm reflector. Click to embiggen and print (use with redlight torches so as to not destroy your night vision).

The clusters and Mars are high enough from Astronomical twilight in the evening (roughly an hour and a  half after sunset) until around 11 pm local time for viewing (and astroimaging) before they become too low.

There will be several challenges imaging these clusters and Mars. Mars's brightness will prevent long exposures, and the waxing Moon is close by, a mere 6 degrees on the 9th, making even narrow-band imaging a challenge.

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