The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada's Kyle Dally joins Jake to discuss Mars's opposition and closest approach. We spent some time at the Trottier Observatory looking through his telescope at everyone's favourite planet.
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To some, it may seem like Astronomy has a tricky barrier to entry. It might seem that to do any meaningful astronomy, you'll not only need a big, bulky, high-powered telescope, but you'll need to know how to use it. But rest assured, it is not necessary to have a massive contraption in your backyard in order to enjoy the night sky. Your ancestors did it for thousands of years with just their naked eyes.
Image Credit: Halfblue
What can you actually see?
Well, of course, we recommend you spot Mars before anything (though we may be a little biased). Mars is at opposition on May 22nd, 2016 (when it will be brightest) and closest approach on May 30th, 2016 (when it will appear biggest). This week, and the few weeks following, Mars will be unmistakable, rising in the east not long after sunset and best viewed around midnight or so. It's fiery red-orange will set it apart from the other stars, and its brightness will be matched only be Jupiter, the Moon, and the Sun.
But Mars is not the only thing you can check out. See the guide below for some common targets for naked-eye astronomy, and some fun activities to get you started.
One of many domains that smartphone apps have opened up to the general public is that of Astronomy. In the past, if you needed to identify an object you spotted in the night sky, you were confined to a pile of star charts and a red light, sifting through maps to try and pin point your target. Today, with different smartphone apps, even the most casual amateur astronomer can call up information at the touch of a finger.
With Mars at Opposition on May 22nd this year, we thought we'd take the opportunity to showcase some of the best beginner apps for amateur stargazing. Mars might be bright, red and easy to spot right now, but it isn't always that way. sometimes, an app is just the right tool to chart the motion of our solar system.
I kept the list short because this assumes you're just getting started with astronomy apps and don't want to get overwhelmed. I encourage more research if you want to find out more about the large amount of apps out there! Good luck spying Mars!
Astronomers around the world today (both professional and amateur) are marking the spring International Astronomy Day. Happening twice per year, International Astronomy Day is designed to give amateur star-gazers, space geeks, and the curious public a taste of astronomy.
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