Mars and M35

BEST TIME TO SEE: 18-19 May as the sky dark­ens

Sky at Night Magazine - - THE BIG THREE -

At the start of April, Mars passed south of the Pleiades open clus­ter, M45, a lovely sight if you had clear skies. This month, the Red Planet will have an­other ap­par­ent en­counter with a clus­ter, the lovely M35 in Gemini. Although this clus­ter can be glimpsed with the naked eye un­der dark sky con­di­tions, it lacks the bril­liance of the Pleiades. Con­se­quently, you’ll need binoculars or a low power tele­scope to get the best views.

Un­like the Pleiades pass, which saw Mars ap­proach within 3.5˚ of M45, the en­counter with M35 has Mars pass­ing over the north­ern reaches of the clus­ter. The con­junc­tion can be seen on the night of 18 May and again on 19 May, but the po­si­tion of Mars and M35 is not op­ti­mal, both ob­jects ap­pear­ing rather low as the sky dark­ens.

Mars will be at mag. +1.7 on 18 May, much dim­mer than when it was last at op­po­si­tion on 27 July. On that date the Red Planet shone at mag. -2.8 which was brighter than Jupiter. De­spite this, it will still out­shine the clus­ter which has an in­te­grated mag­ni­tude of +5.5. M35 has an ap­par­ent di­am­e­ter of 28 ar­cmin­utes and con­tains sev­eral hun­dred stars. There are some beau­ti­ful red-hued stars here too, which should pro­vide an in­ter­est­ing com­par­i­son with Mars.

A pre­vi­ous en­counter be­tween the Red Planet and star clus­ter M35 in Oc­to­ber 2007

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