Mars meets Pleiades: Rare celestial event to light up UAE skies tonight

Web report/Dubai
Filed on March 3, 2021 | Last updated on March 3, 2021 at 09.25 pm

Astronomers claim it will not happen again until 2038.

A rare astronomical sight will occur today, March 3, after sunset.

Mars will move into its closest position to a spectacular star cluster called Pleiades tonight - a phenomenon that has not occurred in 30 years.

Separated from the star cluster by no more than 2.6 degrees, the Red Planet will become visible in UAE skies with the naked eye.

The last time Mars was in such close conjunction to Pleiades was in 1991 - and the next time it is expected to achieve such proximity will only be in 2038.

Astronomy experts have advised stargazers to use a telescope from a higher vantage point in a dark area away from city lights in order to spot the dazzling star cluster - also known as M45 or the Seven Sisters.

The arresting sight can be seen in the southwestern sky two hours after sunset, with the celestial objects being at their closest at 3:26am Thursday morning.

For an idea of how close 2.6 degrees is, simply extend your arm. One degree in the night sky is reportedly about the width of your little finger at arm's length.

Both Mars and the Pleiades cluster will be bright enough to be photographed with smartphones and digital cameras.

Following this phenomenon, the Red Planet will begin charting its course past the bright blue star cluster, which will be visible in the night sky for the rest of the week.

The UAE became the first Arab nation to reach Mars on February 9 this year, when its pioneering Hope probe entered the Red Planet's orbit.

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