Mariner 6 was launched on February 24th 1969 and Mariner 7 on March 27 1969. Mariner 6 and 7 were the second pair of Mars missions in NASA’s Mariner series of solar system exploration in the 1960s and early 1970s. As with the other Mariners, each launched on an Atlas rocket with either an Agena or Centaur upper-stage booster, and weighed less than half a ton (without onboard rocket propellant).
In 1969, Mariner 6 and Mariner 7 completed the first dual mission to Mars, flying by over the equator and south polar regions and analyzing the Martian atmosphere and surface with remote sensors, as well as recording and relaying hundreds of pictures. By chance, both flew over cratered regions and missed both the giant northern volcanoes and the equatorial grand canyon that was discovered later. Their approach pictures did, however, show that the dark features on the surface long seen from Earth were not canals, as once interpreted in the 1800s.
The Beehive open star cluster (M44, NGC 2632, also known as Praesepe) will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time.
At a declination of +19°40′, it is easiest to see from the northern
hemisphere; it can be seen at latitudes between 89°N and 50°S.
From Cork, it will be visible in the evening sky, becoming accessible at around 18:39 (GMT) as the dusk sky fades, 16° above your eastern horizon. It will then reach its highest point in the sky at 00:34, 57° above your southern horizon. It will continue to be observable until around 06:28, when it sinks to 16° above your western horizon.
At magnitude 3.1, M44 is tricky to make out with the naked eye except from a dark site, but is visible through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.
Monday 21st January from about 4 to 6 am
See a total eclipse of the Moon early morning Monday 21st January from about 4 to 6 am. The Moon will turn red (“Blood Moon”), but no-one knows in advance just what shade of red, as it depends on the amount of dust, dirt and aerosols in our upper atmosphere, through which sunlight passes to reach the Moon. Eclipse will begin 2:34 am, with totality lasting from 4:40 to 5:11. Here’s hoping for a clear night!
A total lunar eclipse will take place on 21 January 2019 UTC (Coordinated Universal Time). For observers in the Americas, the eclipse will take place between the evening of Sunday, January 20 and the early morning hours of Monday, January 21. For observers in Europe and Africa, the eclipse will occur during the morning of January 21. The eclipse will occur during a supermoon. It will also be the last total lunar eclipse until May 2021.
The eclipse will be visible in its entirety from North and South America, as well as portions of western Europe and northwest Africa. From locations in North America, the eclipse will begin during the evening hours of January 20. Observers at locations in Europe and much of Africa will be able to view part of the eclipse before the Moon sets in the early morning (pre-dawn) hours of January 21.
Contact points relative to Earth’s umbral and penumbral shadows, here with the Moon near its descending node
The timing of total lunar eclipses are determined by its contacts:
- P1 (First contact): Beginning of the penumbral eclipse. Earth’s penumbra touches the Moon’s outer limb.
- U1 (Second contact): Beginning of the partial eclipse. Earth’s umbra touches the Moon’s outer limb.
- U2 (Third contact): Beginning of the total eclipse. The Moon’s surface is entirely within Earth’s umbra.
- Greatest eclipse: The peak stage of the total eclipse. The Moon is at its closest to the center of Earth’s umbra.
- U3 (Fourth contact): End of the total eclipse. The Moon’s outer limb exits Earth’s umbra.
- U4 (Fifth contact): End of the partial eclipse. Earth’s umbra leaves the Moon’s surface.
- P4 (Sixth contact): End of the penumbral eclipse. Earth’s penumbra no longer makes contact with the Moon.
The penumbral phases of the eclipse changes the appearance of the Moon only slightly and is generally not noticeable.