Glenn Miles captured this image of the Big Dipper, stars Arcturus and Spica, and the planet Mars this week. Mars is the planet to watch! It’s brighter now in our sky than it has been for two years. Earth will pass between Mars and the sun on April 8. Glenn wrote:
I captured this image late last night under clear skies over the north coast of Northern Ireland before a blanket of cloud came over and covered everything.
In this photo, the Big Dipper – known as the Plough in the U.K. or, in Hindu astronomy Saptarishi, after the seven rishis – is in the upper middle of the photo. See it? Follow the curve in the Dipper’s handle to arc to the bright star Arcturus above the house and the brighter planet Mars to the upper right of the house. The chart below shows you how. In Glenn’s photo, Mars is the brighter of two “stars” near the horizon. The other star is Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo the Maiden.
Have you ever wanted to find the Big Dipper but just couldn’t spot this famous pattern? Here’s everything you need to know
Here’s more about locating the star Arcturus, using the Big Dipper as a guide.
Here’s more about the red planet Mars, now at its best for this two-year period: Follow the arc to Arcturus … and Mars
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. Today, as Lead Editor at EarthSky.org, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She also serves as one of the voices of EarthSky on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and G+. She and her husband live in Tennessee and have two grown sons.