Mars Diamond, What A Sight! / That Giant Sunspot

Last night, four celestial luminaries joined together in the outline of a diamond in the southern sky. Credit: Bob King
“Like a diamond in the sky.” So goes the song. Last night, four celestial luminaries joined together create one in the southern sky. Credit: Bob King

Last night late, the Full Moon, Mars, Saturn and Antares aligned in a diamond over my front yard. I’ll bet you saw it, too. The figure measured 12° wide and 9° deep and made walking the dog more illuminating than usual.

The diamond was a one-night-only affair as the moon is never still. Tonight, you’ll find our satellite about 4° to the left or east of Saturn. Still in the neighborhood but always hurrying east as it orbits the Earth.

Sunspot #2546 is twice the size of Earth and still a striking sight through a safe filter. Despite its large size, it has a simple magnetic field and hasn't spawned any solar storms. This photo was taken earlier today by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. Credit: NASA
Sunspot #2546 is twice the size of Earth and still a striking sight through a safe filter. Despite its large size, the spot has a simple magnetic field and hasn’t spawned any solar storms. This photo was taken earlier today by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. Credit: NASA

Remember the giant sunspot from a few days ago? The students in my class and I got a kick out of seeing it with the naked eye through a #14 welder’s glass this week. It’s still out, so I encourage you to use a #14 or similar safe solar filter for a look. Usually a giant sunspot brims with activity from the twisted and criss-crossing magnetic fields that can spawn solar flares. Not this guy. The spot has a simple, stable field that has yet to lead to any significant flares.

Just a quick note. I updated yesterday’s blog about viewing Mars in a telescope with additional labeled photo maps. Happy Mars-ing!