• Wed. Dec 2nd, 2020

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Technology

What Is Mars Opposition? How, When And Where To Watch Red Planet Shine Bright

KEY POINTS

  • Mars will be in opposition Oct. 13
  • A planet is in opposition when it aligns with the Earth and the Sun
  • Viewers can watch the event through Virtual Telescope Project’s Mars opposition viewing

Viewers can observe the Mars opposition Oct. 13 where the planet can be seen in the night sky.

Now that we’ve seen Mars hit its closest approach to Earth on Oct. 6, we can now expect to see it beaming in the night sky this Tuesday, when it will align with Earth and the Sun, giving viewers from Earth the closest view they can get for the next 15 years. The next time we’ll see Mars this close will be in 2035, according to an article by Space.com.

Mars and Earth, as well as all the other planets in the solar system, orbit the Sun at different distances and speeds. But every two years or so, Mars, the Earth and the Sun all form a straight line during the course of their orbits, with Earth in the middle. This is when a planet is considered to be in opposition. Viewers in the Northern Hemisphere will have an amazing view of the Red planet during its opposition, as it will be positioned farther up in the sky during this time.

“Indeed, Mars won’t be comparably close and well-positioned for northern observers again until it reaches opposition in 2052, making this year’s opposition all the more noteworthy,” said Gary Seronik, consulting editor for Sky & Telescope magazine.

For observers who are cooped up at home or cannot enjoy the privilege of looking up at the night sky, the Virtual Telescope Project will be streaming a Mars opposition viewing at 1 p.m. PT on Oct. 13.

Observers can expect to see Mars as a bright orange dot at the night of Oct. 13, according to article at cnet.com. With Mars in opposition on Oct. 13, NASA has described it as the night when viewers could “effectively” see a full Mars. The next time this will occur is two years from now.

Mars hit its closest approach to Earth Oct. 6 at just 62 million kilometers. It was positioned in a region of the sky with no bright stars overshining it, making it easy to spot. To observers who missed it, they can still look forward to a rare Halloween blue moon on Oct. 31.

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