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May 22, 2016 Mars Opposition

16 May 2016, 07:01 UTC
May 22, 2016 Mars Opposition
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Date: May 22, 2016 Time: all night Place: the southeast to southwest sky
On May 22 Mars will reach opposition. See this post for the geometry. Bottom line — Mars will be close and large and bright, shining at magnitude -2.1. That outshines Sirius (M = -1.46), the brightest star in the sky. Saturn, approaching its June 2 opposition, will be 12° east of Mars glowing at M = +0.1. And tonight only, as a special bonus, the Full Moon will be 6° east of Saturn. You shouldn’t need a chart to spot this trio, but you can click the one above for a larger copy.
Mars rises at sunset, around 7:30 pm, followed by Saturn and the Moon. All three will track across the sky in unison. The chart shows their position when Mars culminates (reaches its highest elevation). This occurs at midnight, when Mars is due south, but you need not wait till then. All three objects will be visible by 9:00 pm.
Hoax advisory: I really have to mention this, since so many people forward me “astronomy” emails. Every Mars opposition spawns a flurry of emails with doctored images that show how “Mars will appear as large ...

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