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Mars and full moon take center stage

Posted at 5:20 PM, Jul 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-27 11:58:24-04

Space enthusiasts will be treated to quite the night sky show this month. Several planets including Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn will be visible to the naked eye, and on the night of July 27th, Mars will join the moon at center stage.

Typically Venus is the second brightest object in our night sky, right after the moon. But Mars will take over that title for one night as it moves into opposition. 

Mallory Kountze Planetarium operator Krista Testin explains what it means for sky watchers.

"So that means we have the sun, Earth, and Mars on the other side, so it's kind of all lined up, all the light from the sun hits Mars and bounces back."

As the sun sets in the west, Mars will rise in the east. You will be able to tell it is Mars because of its distinct coloring.

"It'll appear orange-ish red, and that's because of our atmosphere. Just like sometimes on moon rise and moon set the moon appears more orange-ish red," says Testin.

In some parts of the world, the full moon will also turn blood red on the night of the 27th as a total lunar eclipse gets underway.

"As the moon is going around Earth, every once in a while Earth will cast a shadow on the moon. sometimes it's a little shadow, sometimes like this time and the one in January it will be a full shadow," adds Testin.

While this total lunar eclipse won't be visible for us here in the Midwest, be sure to still enjoy the full moon and line of planets moving across the night sky on the 27th. We will have to wait a few more months to see the total lunar eclipse on January 20th, 2019.