We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]


As is rather common in Belfast, it was cloudy earlier this evening. Even so, I laid the latest two issues of Sky and Telescope out on the bed, open to the sky map pages. I tried to interpolate where Mars would be tonight. The charts are basically for the East Coast USA, so they aren’t quite right for my considerably different longitude and latitude.

I needn’t have bothered.

Somewhat after midnight the clouds parted. I pulled on a jumper against the chill of the night. I went out into the too well lit parking lot hoping to navigate my way around the sky based on what ever made it through the glare. It’s not as bad as being in the city centre, but the sky glow here is still considerable.

I found Cygnus. Then I started looking for where I thought the plane of the ecliptic should be. Over in the general direction of the Belfast City Airport there appeared to be a plane in the pattern, and the brightness of its’ lights were an annoyance while looking for…. HOLY SHIT!!!

That was when I realized just how bright Mars is. I’ve seen oppositions before, but nothing remotely like this. The various astronomical news items have been just words. One suggested Mars might be bright enough to throw a dim shadow if you are in a sufficiently dark place. Another said Mars is nearer and brighter than it has been since Neanderthals were hunting Wooly Mammoths in Europe.

You really can’t miss it.

7 comments to Oppositiion!

  • Sandy P.

    space.com should help for those who are interested.

  • Cybrludite

    And all we’re doing is lobbing some cheap robotic probes at it. We should have been launching, at the very least, a manned expedition. (mutter, grumble)

  • Haywood

    I was staying in a cottage on a Northern Ontario lake last week. At night Mars was so bright that it cast a pathway of light all the way across the lake to my dock. Unbelievable.

  • S.A. Smith

    I’m in Central California where the 3am sky is clear and dark and when I look up there it is, a strong brassy glow, like an eraser tip amid the pin prick stars. Wish I hadn’t returned my Christmas telescope.

  • steevil (Dr Weevil's bro Steve)

    Go to

    for prediction of Azimutg (Zn) and Elevation (Hc) from your position and at your expected observation time.

  • Mike

    Well, you can miss it, if you live in the Seattle area and the sky is one solid mass of clouds, causing you to swear loudly because you got up at 4:00 in the morning just to see it, which should have been fine because it was clear when you went to bed, but that’s Seattle for you.

    Or so I would imagine.