On Tuesday, Mars will be at its closest approach to Earth, a phenomenon that happens once every 15 years. When the red planet is in its ‘opposition’ location, when Earth is between Mars and the sun, the phenomenon occurs. The opposition of Mars this year occurred on July 27, the same day as the blood moon. When the world comes closest to Earth later today, stargazers will be able to see it in its brightest form. Here’s when and how users will see Mars at its best, as well as why this opposition is different from previous ones.
Each planet has its own orbit around the sun, which takes a set amount of time to complete. However, since each planet’s distance from the sun differs, the time it takes for it to revolve around the star varies. The Earth takes around a year (or 365.25 days) to complete one revolution around the sun, while Mars takes 1.88 years (approximately 687 days). Since the two planets’ orbits are different distances, they only come close to each other every two years. In 2016, Mars came really close to Earth for the first time.
When the two planets approach each other, the Earth, which is closer to the sun, also comes between the star and the red planet. Mars appears opposite the sun in this situation, and is said to be in ‘opposition.’ A world appears larger than normal during opposition, and its brightest colors are visible. The brightest colors of red or orange would be apparent in the case of Mars. Mars was closest to Earth in 2003, when it came within 34.6 million miles (55.7 million kilometers) of our planet. According to NASA, it was the nearest Mars had come to Earth in 60,000 years. The world will be 35.8 million miles (57.6 million kilometers) away from Earth today.
The next time this occurrence will occur is in 2034. The opposition this year occurred during a complete lunar eclipse and blood moon, dimming the red planet. Both the moon and Mars were visible next to each other, and both celestial bodies were colored red. The planet will rise from the Gemini constellation in India on the evening of July 31, and you will be able to see it with your naked eye. Stargazers may use a telescope to examine the planet’s atmosphere in greater detail. On Mars, there is currently a world-wide dust storm, which is said to happen when the planet is nearest to the sun in its orbit. As a result, not many features of Mars could be apparent today.
You can watch NASA’s live stream of the Mars sighting from the Griffith Observatory if the weather is bad where you are due to the monsoon. From 1.30 p.m. EST, the live stream will be available on NASA’s website and YouTube channel (around 11pm IST). The show will run until 4 p.m. EST (1.30am IST on August 1). In October 2020, Mars will be closest to Earth. Mars and Earth would be 38.6 million miles (62.1 million kilometers) apart at the time.
The red planet will be easy to see because there will be no bright stars in the same area of the sky. This week, Mars will be closer to Earth than it will be for the next 15 years. It is currently located just north of the celestial equator, as the fourth planet from the sun. That means it’s nearly perfectly positioned to be visible from both hemispheres, and it’s shining brightly in the evening sky. The map depicts its location on 5 October at 22:00 BST, looking east-southeast from London.
This month, the red planet will demonstrate why it has received its moniker. It will be easy to see because it will be in an area of the sky with no bright stars. Off to the east, the moon is in its fading gibbous phase, and it will be the only thing in the night sky that shines brighter. Jupiter and Saturn will be the next brightest things in the atmosphere in the south-west, close to the horizon since they are setting. Mars will be in the east-northeast from the southern hemisphere.