Star Points: Is the Great Pumpkin rising? No, it's Mars

Motorized combines and other harvest related vehicles and equipment have made their annual migration to Carroll County’s roads and fields, marking the start of agricultural autumn.

By the Halloween harvest festival at month’s end, children will be in colorful costumes and ornately carved jack-o-lanterns will warmly glow due to candles burning inside.

Mars is a tricky target because, although it is bright and easy to view with the unaided eye, its apparent size is rather small making telescopic observations of its surface features difficult.

I’ve been glimpsing Mars naked eye in the east for the past couple of months around the midnight hour and it has been rising earlier every night.

Barring obstruction from trees, hills or buildings, Mars appears as a brilliant orangish-red “star” impossible to miss and is currently outshining even Jupiter.

Also, a moderate telescope with a 6″, 8″ diameter or larger aperture is needed to collect enough light to create an image bright enough for the eyepiece to magnify without appearing faint or fuzzy.

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