Father’s Day is just around the corner. If you missed my
June 13, 2001
recent column on the subject, here’s the link.
Today’s Mars Opposition topic is accompanied by the following games:
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During June, night sky observers will be treated to a Mars opposition. About every two
years, the Earth passes between the Sun and Mars such that Mars and the Sun are on opposite
sides of the Earth. During an opposition, Mars rises at sunset, is visible all night long, and sets at
sunrise. Because the distance between Earth and Mars is near minimum, Mars appears brighter
and larger than usual. This makes it a great time to observe Mars through a telescope or
Science Center: Astro Calendar
Astro Calendar presents a monthly look at what’s playing in the night sky near you. And the
big news (listed on the front page under the headline “Astronomical Highlights 2001″) is the Mars
Opposition of 2001. With a simple diagram showing the Mars and Earth orbits, its easy to
understand the term “opposition.” This year, gazers in the Southern Hemispheres will get the best
view, because Mars will appear high in the sky where there is less atmospheric distortion. Those
of us in the Northern Hemisphere will find Mars low in the nightly sky.
My Red Planet pick of the day goes to Exploring Mars, creating by a group of scientists from
Jet Propulsion Lab and University of California at Los Angeles. It’s a great place to start for
school reports (try Mars at a Glance) or browsing for the fun of it. The Mars Science section is
outstanding, and the Mars History section is fascinating. “The Babylonians called Mars Nergal -
the great hero, the king of conflicts.” Lots of photos and illustrations, and a good navigation
system make this site work for all ages.
Is it possible to send men to Mars? In 1997, a group of students gathered together in
cyberspace to design a virtual manned mission to Mars. This Web site serves both as a guide to
developing your own Mars mission, as well as a record of their project. Best clicks are the Online
Courses and Special Projects (from Mars Intro to Artificial Gravity) and the Interactive Features
that let you test various aspects of your design.
to the Universe: Mars
Pages and pages of Mars delights await you at this educational site from the University of
Michigan. To begin, choose to view either the Beginner (upper elementary ages), Intermediate
(middle school) or Advanced (high school and older) site. You’ll find the selection at the top of
each page in a small centered menu. Best clicks are Latest News (“Mars Global Surveyor still
going strong.”) and Tour Mars, a slide show presentation of eleven topics including Life on Mars?
Mars Climate, and Water on Mars. Unfortunately site navigation requires extensive use of the
browser back button to return to the main Mars menu.
Telescope: A Grand Return of Mars
“Not often do we Earthbound observers get a good look at Mars. It’s a small planet to begin
with, and it spends most of its time far away.” But this summer Mars will appear closer and larger
than it has since 1988. This single page article explains why the 2001 opposition offers us better
Mars gazing than most biannual oppositions. You’ll find more planetary delights by browsing
through the magazine’s left-hand menu. Best bets are the Monthly Northern and Southern Sky
Highlights, and Monthly Sky Events.
Copyright © 2001 Barbara J.
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