Hope you checked out the stars during last week's blackout. Look up now and you can find Mars sitting in the southeast sky at a 45-degree angle from the horizon.
This bright planet is slightly reddish in colour (that's red sand you're looking at) and will be at its closest point to Earth on August 27 at 5:51 am. And if you want this image to last forever, get out your digital camera. Its fast shutter speed lets you point, shoot and marvel. Note - do not look into the sun with a telescope or with your bare eye. You could go blind.
1. If going outside isn't really your thing, this 2D Solar System Mobile lets you gaze up at orbiting planets - shot by NASA photographers - without leaving your room ( Science City , 50 Bloor West, 416-968-2627, $20).
2. Bushnell's Spacemaster Spotting Scope is compact in size and features a convenient multi-positional 20-60 x 60mm eyepiece, which allows viewing at any angle. With retractable sunshade, multi-coated optics and superior BaK-4 prisms (come again?), it's easy on the eyes in more ways than one (Science City, $350).
3. If you need lenses that will work double or triple time - checking out the planets, birds, your neighbours - these Action 10 x 50CF binoculars from Nikon should do the trick ( Henry's , 119 Church, 416-868-0872, $210).
4. For the ultimate in celestial time travel, Starry Night Backyard is a trippy software program that lets you go back in time - among other things - to see past astral events and view the universe from any location in space ( Kendrick Astro Instruments , 2920 Dundas West, 416-762-7946, $120).
5. Call it cruise control for celestial navigation, but Celestron's NexStar 60GT computerized telescope does the hard work of locating all those heavenly objects for you: the computerized hand controller can find and store the locations of more than 4,000 heavenly bodies and auto-align them for immediate observation (Henry's, $450.)
6. When playing the Astronomy edition of Monopoly, the whole galaxy is your board game, and you can own the world! (Insert maniacal laugh here.) For ages eight and older ( EfstonScience , 3350 Dufferin, 416-787-4581, $70).
7. NewStar's 70mm telescope provides a clear picture, but with the addition of a 2x Barlow 1.25-inch lens, the focus is crystal clear (EfstonScience, $220).
8. Nightwatch: A Practical Guide To Viewing The Universe, by Terrence Dickinson, is the only book a budding astronomer needs (EfstonScience, $30).
9. The Bushnell Voyager Family Telescope is a stellar way to look at the heavens with children, thanks to this scope's sturdy construction (Science City, $200).