Starwatch: Mars will look its brightest tonight until 2035

Weather

Tonight, October 13, 2020, Mars will be at opposition. An opposition occurs when Mars and the sun are on opposite sides of the sky. This means Mars will look its brightest until the next opposition. 

Stellarium

Mars will rise in the east this evening, and sets in the west at dawn.

The opposition of Mars occurs about every 26 months. Since Mars takes about 2 years to orbit the sun, we pass between Mars and the sun about every 26 months. 

NASA

Extra-close oppositions occur every 15-17 years. This last happened in 2018, and the next once occurs on September 15, 2035. This year, we just miss the qualifications for being considered extra-close as the range is less than 37 million miles and tonight Mars will be 38.57 million miles away. 

This makes the 2020 Mars opposition the brightest for the next 15 years. 

Mars was actually its closest to Earth earlier this month. This does not align with the opposition because planets do not orbit in perfect circles and orbit on different planes.

Thanks to EarthSky.org 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss