A realtime animation of the European Space Agency’s ExoMars Schiaparelli module entering and descending through the atmosphere to land on Mars. The animation starts when the lander enters the atmosphere at an altitude of 121 km at 14:42 GMT. In six minutes it will use a heatshield, parachute and thrusters to brake from 21,000 km/h to a near standstill 2 metres above the surface, where a crushable structure on its underside will absorb the final shock.
As avid skywatchers will already know, all of the bright naked-eye planets are currently visible in the pre-dawn sky — the first time in eleven years that such an alignment has occurred. At 6am GMT on Monday, 1 February, the last quarter Moon in the constellation Libra lies just 2½ degrees from magnitude +0.8 planet Mars low in the south for UK observers.
Friday, 27 July sees the second total lunar eclipse of 2018, which also happens to be the longest of the 21st century. Observers in Antarctica, Australasia, Russia, Asia, Africa, Scandanavia, Europe, Central and Eastern South America will see the event. The Moon rises at mid-eclipse as seen from the British Isles, some 6 degrees north of Mars at opposition.