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AVALANCHE ON MARS: So you thought nothing ever changes on Mars? Wrong. Two weeks ago, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter photographed a massive avalanche near the Red Planet's north pole. See the landslide and get the full story from Science@NASA.
WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY: Tomorrow (Wednesday, March 5th) begins with a beautiful display of planets: Mercury, Venus and the slender crescent Moon will gather in a tight knot beneath the bright gaze of Jupiter. The quartet are easy to see (look southeast) as they beam through the rosy glow of dawn: sky map.
The show continues even after sunrise. In broad daylight, Venus and the crescent Moon will converge until there is only a sliver of blue sky between them. Anthony Ayiomamitis of Athens, Greece, sends this picture of a similar encounter last year over Europe:
"It is amazing how Venus can be picked out during the day and in spite of the brightness of the local sky when a large target such as the moon is nearby to help our eyes focus properly for infinity," says Ayiomamitis.
The Moon on March 5th will be a pale and slender 5% crescent, which could make it difficult to find in the bright blue sky. Try this: Command your GOTO telescope to slew to Venus. The planet and Moon will materialize together in the eyepiece. In parts of North America west of the Mississippi River, the Moon will actually pass in front of Venus causing the planet to disappear between about 2:30 pm and 3:30 pm CST (2030 and 2130 GMT). Occultation timetables for many US towns and cities may be found here.
PHOTO-OP: Comet 17P/Holmes is having a close encounter with the California Nebula. "This pale ghost of a comet makes the brilliant red of my home state's nebula seem that much more intense," says Richard Nolthenius of Bonny Doon, California, who photographed the pair on March 1st:
"On the evenings of March 7th and 8th, Holmes will pass just 'offshore of San Francisco' in the nebula," adds Doug Zubenel of Linn County, Kansas, who labels his own snapshot "California Dreaming." This will be a wonderful photo-op for astronomers with wide-field telescopes. The duo is easy to find; after sunset, just point your optics north at the constellation Perseus: sky map, ephemeris.
JUST FOR FUN: Try looking at Richard Nolthenius's photo, above, using 3D glasses. Although it is not an anaglyph, the image is rich in reds and blues and gives a curious sensation of depth. (Thanks to reader Oliver Mellors for pointing this out.)
more images: from P-M Hedén of Vallentuna, Sweden; from Michael Jäger of Stixendorf, Austria; from Jack Newton of the Arizona Sky Village;
Lunar Eclipse Photo Gallery
[Interactive World Map of Eclipse Photos]