Moonless, Dark Skies Return Tonight

Do we really have to wait until December 2010 for the next lunar eclipse? It’s rare when so many people share the same moving event. It seems to bring us all a little closer. Like me, you may wish eclipses were more frequent. And they would be if the sun, Earth and full moon lined up exactly in a row each month. Unfortunately the moon’s orbit is slightly tilted, so the full moon nearly always passes just a little above or below the shadow cast by our planet and no eclipse occurs.
Tonight the sky will be dark and moonless for almost an hour after twilight’s end. This is a perfect time to spot the planet Mars nearly due south and very high in the sky. Look for a reddish "star" high above the outline of the constellation Orion. Start with Orion’s famous three-starred belt and just keep going up until your neck almost hurts. Yeah, that’s Mars up there.
Over the coming weeks, the Red Planet will slowly move eastward (to the left) through the stars of Gemini the Twins, one of the zodiac constellations. A keen-eyed observer should be able to detect its movement in a matter of days as it clips along at over 50,000 mph in its orbit around the sun.