This Is the Week to Look Up at Mars

Red planet will be very visible in the night sky
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2020 10:35 AM CDT
This Is the Week to Look Up at Mars
Mars can be easily seen in the night sky this week.   (Getty/Martin Holverda)

If you're looking for a little break from earthly concerns, Mars might provide an option this week. The red planet is particularly visible to the naked eye in the night sky thanks to a confluence of events, reports NPR. In fact, this will be the best week to see the planet for 32 years, writes Jamie Carter at Forbes. And it's easy stuff: Head outside an hour after sunset and look to the east. You should be able to easily spot the reddish-orange dot, which will move higher as the night goes on before setting in the west with the sunrise.

The main reason for the night show is that Mars is in "opposition" this week, meaning the planet and the sun are on opposite sides of the Earth. This opposition technically occurs Tuesday, but sky watchers can already see the effects. Mars oppositions occur once every two years or so, but "because this year's opposition is also close to the new moon, Mars will shine brighter without moonlight hampering," per NPR. A post at NASA has more details on the astronomical factors at play. Carter writes that Mars hasn't looked this big and bright since 2003, and it won't again until 2052. (More Mars stories.)

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