October 22, 2020

See Mars at its brightest tonight as it reaches opposition

Opposition of planet Mars seen here above Whitley Bay, Northumberland, UK. (Credits: David Whinham /...

Opposition of planet Mars seen here above Whitley Bay, Northumberland, UK. (Credits: David Whinham / SplashNews.com)

Skygazers may notice that Mars is looking bigger and brighter at the moment due to a process which only happens every two years or so.

The event, known as ‘opposition’ among astronomers, is when the Red Planet and the sun are on directly opposite sides of Earth.

Although people should see the bright orange planet already, it will be at its best around 1am on Wednesday (October 14) morning, according to the Royal Observatory Greenwich.

‘It’s a really good chance to view it – the last time this happened was 2018 but it was quite difficult for a lot of people to see because it was quite down in the horizon,’ Hannah Banyard, an astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, told the PA news agency.

‘For about a month or so now, it’s been quiet easy to see, as it’s getting close to opposition it’s rising earlier, so it rises from sunset and then you can see it and it gets up quite high into the sky, so it’s really easy to spot.’

This Aug. 26, 2003 image made available by NASA shows Mars as it lines up with the Sun and the Earth. Photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope, it was about 55.8 million kilometers (34.6 million miles) from Earth. A network of salty ponds may be gurgling beneath Mars South Pole alongside a large underground lake, raising the prospect of tiny, swimming Martian life. Italian scientists reported their findings Monday, Sept. 28, 2020 two years after identifying what they believed to be a large subglacial lake. (J. Bell/NASA via AP)

The Red Planet is our nearest planetary neighbour (Credits: AP)

Opposition occurs approximately every 26 months.

Mars is at opposition right now, meaning it is particularly bright (Nasa)

Mars is at opposition right now, meaning it is particularly bright (Nasa)

Despite cloudy weather forecast for parts of the UK, Mars should be visible among any breaks and even through lighter cloud, Ms Banyard added.

Look eastwards towards Pisces tonight to find Mars (Picture: DailyMail.com)

Look eastwards towards Pisces tonight to find Mars (Picture: DailyMail.com)

‘You can see it as a bright orangey-red looking star just with your eyes, but I recommend using at least a four-inch telescope with 24-millimetre magnification and then you’ll be able to make out some features on the surface,’ she said.

‘The next time you will be able to see Mars as big and bright will be 2033.’

Source link