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January 31, 2010
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If you missed it Friday night, there was a full moon out. No big deal, I guess, except that Mars is hanging out in the same part of the sky, and was in opposition – Earth was between Mars and the sun. With Mars also very close to us, the red planet was at its brightest in two years.

That was two days ago; it’s still pretty bright, and will be for a few weeks. On Friday evening, as I left work and was walking to the liquor store, the full moon looked huge – the size of a silver dollar, low in the sky above the lake. Would have made a beautiful picture had I had my camera with me, but… I had taken it out of my bag to take a picture of something inconsequential.

Later in the evening, the moon had returned to normal size, but was full and bright in the East. Mars was brilliant beside it; it would also have made a great picture, except it was Friday and freaking cold out and I was drinking the liquor I had bought earlier in the evening. It sort of looked like this; it was something you could appreciate even if you weren’t prepared to capture it. Once again, hurrah for the internet.

(if you like bright red objects in the sky, then Mars has competition: in the south, Orion is dominating the night sky, and the red giant Betelgeuse is crazy bright. OK, it’s not as bright as Mars – but cut it some slack. It’s 640 light years away, and the southern horizon in Toronto is contaminated by roughly a billion kilowatts of light pollution. Oh look – there’s a giant billboard promoting the Winter Olympics 24 hours a day. Is this an Olympic year? I had no idea!)

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