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The Summer of Mars! (July 2018)

The Summer of Mars! (July 2018)

For the remainder of July, we’ll be concentrating on the planet Mars, an object that simply cannot be missed now as it approaches very close to Earth on July 31st. Indeed, this will be the Summer of Mars. Just look low in the east-southeast sky on any clear, balmy evening soon after darkness falls and you’ll see a fiery yellow-orange “star” blazing brilliantly.

The Red Planet Shines

Named for the Roman god of war, Mars is often called the “Red Planet.” But anyone who takes a look will see that it’s more like a yellowish orange—the color of a dry desert under a high sun—which is exactly what you’re looking at.

From now until well into September, Mars shines with a topaz glow that is brighter than any other object in its region of the sky except on those nights when the Moon is in the general vicinity (such as on July 27th, with the Full Moon).

Is It A UFO?

Some people may see the planet shining brightly and mistake it for a UFO, but of course it’s not. Any unusual close approach of Mars will loan itself to making it appear exceptionally brilliant and indeed, from now into the first week of September, Mars will outshine even Jupiter (the planet normally second in brightness only to Venus).

Be sure you check our July Night Sky calendar so you don’t miss any of the exciting celestial events this month!

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If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1919, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.

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