Watch Mars rule the October night sky with a close approach to Earth this week

Mars will brilliant and exquisite within the October 2020 evening sky.


Overlook Halloween. This October is all in regards to the glory of Mars, because the glimmering pink planet places on a present within the evening sky. You may take pleasure in Mars as a brilliant level of sunshine all month lengthy, however there are two particular dates to mark in your calendar: Oct. 6 when the planet makes an in depth strategy to Earth, and Oct. 13, when it will likely be in opposition. 

Recognizing Mars

Mars has a fame because the “pink” planet, however its coloration within the evening sky is a bit more on the Halloween aspect of the spectrum. It seems as a brilliant orange-red dot to the bare eye, like a bit of spot of glittering rust.

Mars’ distinctive coloration is one clue you’ve got discovered it at nighttime. Look to the jap sky to catch it rising at evening. It is a nice time for viewing the planet, partly as a result of recognizing it’s so easy. It needs to be seen for a lot of the evening. As NASA says, “Merely go outdoors and lookup and, relying in your native climate and lighting situations, it is best to be capable to see Mars.”

Try our list of stargazing apps in order for you some additional assist with finding the planet.

Shut strategy: Oct. 6

Tuesday, Oct. 6 marks the shut strategy of Mars to Earth. This may be a good time to seize a telescope and get a bit of higher look. Give a wave to NASA’s Perseverance rover when you’re at it. The car is on observe to succeed in the planet in February 2021. 

NASA shared an artist’s view of of the Tuesday, Oct. 6 close approach in contrast with the final time it snuggled up in July 2018. The obvious sizes look very related. This yr, Mars could have a minimal distance of 38.6 million miles (62 million kilometers), which is about three million miles farther away than in 2018.

This artist’s view reveals the obvious sizes of Mars throughout shut approaches in 2018 and 2020. 


Opposition: Oct. 13

When Mars and the solar line up with Earth within the center, the pink planet is claimed to be in opposition. It is a excellent time to trace Mars’ motion throughout the sky. It’ll rise within the east because the solar goes down, transfer throughout the sky after which set within the west because the solar comes up. 

NASA describes opposition as “successfully a ‘full’ Mars.” Tuesday, Oct. 13 is the time to take pleasure in opposition. You will have to attend over two years for it to occur once more. 

“The racetrack mannequin of planetary orbits explains why. Earth and Mars are like runners on a observe. Earth is on the within, Mars is on the skin,” NASA said in its What’s Up blog for October. “Each 26 months, speedy Earth catches as much as slower Mars and laps it. Opposition happens simply as Earth takes the lead.”

Mars is not the one show-off within the sky for October. You too can look forward to a rare Halloween blue moon when our lunar neighbor is full on Oct. 31. It is not spooky; it is boo-tiful.

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Amanda Kooser