Deep space line-up visible from earth

A Martian valley photographed by Mars Rover Curiosity on January 30, 2014. Picture: NASA
A Martian valley photographed by Mars Rover Curiosity on January 30, 2014. Picture: NASA

At 10.30pm, the three-quarter illuminated moon will have just risen over the eastern horizon.

The bright star called Spica will appear to the top right of the moon and below the moon will be the reddish-coloured planet Mars.

While admiring this wonderful sight, think about how long each object’s light has taken to reach earth.

The moon’s reflected light only takes 1.5 seconds or so to reach us and is the only astronomical object we can see in real time from earth.

Light reflected from Mars takes about eight to 15 minutes; the exact time is dependent on the distance between earth and Mars, which varies as both planets orbit the sun.

Spica’s starlight takes about 260 years to reach earth, or, as astronomers say, Spica is about 260 light years from earth.

What is a light year?

One light year is equal to the distance that light travels in one year.

Light travels at 300,000km per second and in one year this equates to about 9.5 trillion km.

For more information, go to www.stargazersclubwa.com.au.