as jupiter sets earlier each evening in the south-southwest, mars is rising east-northeast around midnight! yippee! the planets are fantastic bright highlights in the sky and they're fun to observe with naked eyes, binoculars and telescopes! a little boy of about 6 years has come to two star parties now with him mom. he always tells me what's going on in his life ad how much he wants to see mars! he became a little mad at me the first night i told him mars was behind the earth at night right now and we couldnt see it. counting the 4 visible moons of jupiter thru the old telescope cheered him up a little, but i think he was still a disappointed. luckily for him.... mars is on its way up!
if you're awake and outside tonight around midnight, look to the east and find the waning gibbous moon. just below the moon you'll see the pleiades, a star cluster of hundreds of blue stars gravitationally bound together. when i was young and first recognized this little concentration of stars in the sky, i thought it looked like a little tiny dipper, which is still what runs thru my head whenever i see it! below the little tiny dipper is the star named aldebaran, and below aldebaran and a little to the left is mars. the red planet will rise higher as the night goes on and earlier as we (in the north) settle into autumn. enjoy!