Join the Mars Opposition!

No, we’re not talking about a revolution!  Rather, today Mars reaches what astronomers call “opposition,” which simply means that, at sunset, Mars is on the exact opposite side of the sky as the Sun.  Viewed from outer space, Earth is between Mars and the Sun.

Mars Opposition
On April 8, 2014 the Sun, Earth and Mars will align, with Earth in the middle

When the Sun sets in the west today, Mars will be rising in the east.  Mars will be the bright, reddish-looking ‘star’ near the bright (actual) star Spica, which is located within the Name A Star Live constellation Virgo.

Here’s where Mars will appear in the night sky a few hours after sunset tonight:

Mars in the evening sky
Facing East at 9 pm from northern latitudes

This is the view (weather permitting) of Mars at approximately 9 pm from the northern continental US (other than Alaska), southern Canada, southern Europe up to northern Europe (northern Spain, France, Italy, Northern Greece, Northern Turkey, Germany, Austria, Ukraine), northern China, northern Japan.  Mars may appear higher or lower in the sky at other latitudes in the northern hemisphere.

If you’re in the southern hemisphere of Earth (e.g., Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile), Mars will appear as follows:

Mars viewed from Sydney
Mars as viewed from Sydney, Australia on April 9

Mars will appear larger and brighter in the sky tonight than it has since 2007.  But don’t worry if your skies are cloudy tonight: Mars will appear basically just as bright and large for the next two weeks, and will be quite a show long after that as well!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *