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As a chronically stricken early riser, I have the opportunity to take gaze into the early morning skies on a daily basis. Although Saturn is quite visible, as long as you’re up and outside before 4:30am, it is currently playing second fiddle to another planetary celestial body: Mars. Mars is currently just past its closest encounter with Earth, but you probably wouldn’t notice. Mars is rapidly approaching ‘opposition’; that is to say, it is directly opposite the sun from our viewing prospective. Since Mars produces no light of its own, the luminescence we observe is reflected sunlight.
Given the optimal conditions we currently have, there is no reason you cannot enjoy this sister planet every night. You don’t have to get up several cracks before dawn to do it either. Mars rises in the southeast around 9:30pm and remains visible in the southwest skies until daylight washes it out somewhere around 5am. The unmistakable ‘red’ color of Mars makes it the easiest of nighttime heavenly objects to spot.
The best news is: no special optics are needed to enjoy this visual display, however, a pair of binoculars greatly enhances the experience. If you happen to be an avid bird watcher, a low-power scope gives an excellent view! Another visual aid I recommend is free and downloadable for your phone: SkyView app. I find the ‘free’ version completely satisfactory for identifying the nighttime sky show players. Once you install it, simply launch the app and point your phone in the direction of what you want to identify (it also works pointing ‘down’, enabling you to see constellations and planets ‘through’ the Earth).
So if your neck is now sore from all this stargazing, take a look towards your yard and see where it may need a bit of help. Since you’re a BatesRewards member you have a special opportunity to save…across the board. Usually there are a couple of exclusions, but not this time! Save 15% off EVERYTHING; including gift cards and deliveries through July 19!