Science

Tomorrow you'll get a once-in-two-years photo op with Mars

Tomorrow you'll get a once-in-two-years photo op with Mars”

The distance between the planets Earth and Mars at Opposition varies from 56 million kilometres at perihelion (closest point to the Sun) to 101 million kilometres at aphelion (farthest point from the Sun).

As a result, opposition occurs every 26 months or so, when the more quickly orbiting Earth swings by on the "inside lane" as it passes by Mars. Mars will also appear the brightest to the naked eye and will appear notably larger to those observing it through a telescope. Mars rises in the east when the sun sets, and peaks in the night sky at midnight when it is above the southern horizon. Still, you don't have to stay up late to see the big, bright planet in the night sky.

The Red Planet actually made its closest approach to our planet on 6 October, when it was 38,586,816 miles away from Earth (very close, for Mars). The spectacle will not be seen again until 2035. This is the ideal time to monitor the movement of Mars across the sky. Space.com reported that the Red Planet will be rising in the east before 7 pm all of this week and it will be easy to spot on clear nights for weeks to come. Those orbital quirks make it so Mars can sometimes be closest before opposition, and therefore before it appears brightest.

"In fact, Mars will not be relatively close and well positioned again to northern observers until it reaches opposition in 2052".

At its farthest point, Mars is 400 million kilometres from Earth. It is so simple to see the planet that you may not even need to have a lot of experience with sky-gazing.

"In general, Mars is the brightest in October 2020 in 2020". On October 13, Mars will also be at its maximum apparent size when viewed through telescopes.

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Mars arrives in opposition today, October 13th, and offers skywatchers an early Halloween treat. Look at the eastern sky to catch up at night.

Mars is not the only one in the sky for October.

Opposition is the best time to view Mars.

Opposition describes the occasion marked by the sun, Earth and Mars all lining up perfectly. With a good telescope, stargazers can see Mars' surface in detail. But if one were to look at Mars during this time using a telescope with intense magnification capabilities (around 80x should do the trick) Mars will appear as roughly the same size as the moon would look like to the eye without a telescope.

Mr Wesley said this close orbit was important.



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