Observation Log 3/27/06: Revisiting a few clusters, and… what the heck is Mars doing way over there?

It was a rare clear night, the moon isn’t out, so I grabbed theCanon 10×30 Image Stabilizing binoculars and got outside for a half hour. I saw the Beehive Cluster, the Perseus Double Cluster, Kemble’s Cascade, Saturn, and… Mars… but why is it so far north?

I was looking at the Hyades Cluster in Taurus, and spotted an unusually red “star” where I didn’t expect one. That happens frequently enough. When I got inside, I opened up Starry Night to look up the object, and it was Mars!

This was a new lesson for me. Just two months ago, the ecliptic (the imaginary line that the sun follows though the sky in a year, and along which the planets closely orbit) was more or less centered due South:

Night sky 12/05

But now it has moved, more than I had imagined, toward the west:

Night sky, 3/27/06

This is just in two months. There’s always something to learn from the sky.

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