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Monday, May 29, 2023


Mars Crosses the Beehive cluster 1-3 June, 2023

Evening sky on Thursday, June 1 as seen from Adelaide at 18:44 ACST, 90 minutes after sunset (click to embiggen). Mars is on the outskirts of the Beehive cluster (M44). The inset is the binocular view of Mars and the cluster. Similar views will be seen from the rest of Australia at the equivalent local time (90 minutes after sunset).Mars and M44 on 2 June, 18:42 ACST. 10 degree field of view. Simulated in Stellarium.
Mars and M44 on 3 June, 18:42 ACST. 10 degree field of view. Simulated in Stellarium.

From Thursday 1 June to Saturday 3 June, Mars crosses the Beehive cluster (M44). Under dark skies this delightful open cluster looks like a faint nebulous patch, but binoculars or a telescope will reveal it's wonderful starry mass. 

While in principle seeing Mars in the heart of the beehive is possible with the unaided eye, This is far better seen with binoculars or a small telescope, On the 1st Mars on on the outskirts of the cluster, and on the 2nd and 3rd it is in the heart of the cluster. The cluster fits neatly into medium power telescope eyepiece fields. On the days leading up to the crossing and a couple of days after, Mars and the cluster are in the same binocular field.

The sight is best at Astronomical twilight, and hour and a half after sunset, much later than this and the beehive gets too close to the horizon to be seen clearly. Mars is not so bright that it will drown out the clusters dimmer starts, so this will be a nice opportunity for some astrophotography.

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