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Mars returns to glory

March 2012: The solar system's inner two planets, Mercury and Venus, both put on their best evening displays of the year this month, while Mars arrives at opposition and peak visibility.
RELATED TOPICS: PLANETARY OBSERVING
Red-Planet
The Red Planet comes closer to Earth than it has in two years, providing earthbound observers with exquisite views. Credit: ESA/MPS/OSIRIS Team
The solar system’s inner two planets, Mercury and Venus, both put on their best evening displays of the year this month. Venus, the brightest point of light in the sky, takes part in an added drama: It has a stunning conjunction with Jupiter, the second-brightest planet.

The opposite part of the sky witnesses its own drama as Mars arrives at opposition and peak visibility. It ranks number four on the brightness scale this month, with only two brighter planets and the star Sirius beating it. And if that isn’t enough, gorgeous Saturn brightens as it approaches its April opposition.

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