Mars Opposition - Where To Look And When

Monday, 07 April 2014 - 10:49AM
Astronomy
Mars
Monday, 07 April 2014 - 10:49AM
Mars Opposition - Where To Look And When

Tomorrow night, the Opposition of Mars will grace our skies, an event that will see the Red Planet appear at its most vivid for more than 6 years. This spectacular event occurs when Earth's orbit places our planet directly between the Sun and Mars, something that only occurs once every 26 months. Couple this with Mars travelling to within just 92 million km of Earth, and you have yourself one spectacular skywatching event.

 

So, how do you go about watching this celestial marvel?

 

The beauty of this particular event is that, weather permitting, it is actually going to be incredibly hard to miss. Mars is going to be pretty visible in most skies throughout April, however, starting on the evening of Tuesday 8th April, the red planet will be at its most spectacular. Just as the Sun starts setting in the West on April 8th, Mars will appear on the opposite horizon in the East. One the lights go down, Mars will appear as a dusty red, but very bright ball in the sky. It really should be quite hard to miss.

For a more technical guide to spotting Mars, I recommend you check our Eye on the Sky's latest video.

 

For much of North America, cloud coverage is not expected to be a major factor to skywatchers tomorrow night, so this really is the perfect storm. If you want to get an accurate forecast for your location, I recommend checking out Accuweather's Astronomy Forecast.

 

If you can't make it out tomorrow night, don't panic, because as I mentioned before, this is going to continue throughout the month of April. Indeed, on April 14th you can add a lunar eclipse to the list of reasons for getting out and looking up. Between 2am and 4:30am (EST), skywatchers will get the rare treat of seeing Mars loom large in the sky, right alongside a full lunar eclipse.

 

For those not keen on spending a chilly night outside, SLOOH will be streaming the whole event live, right here

 

If you have a telescope, bring it along, because it will allow you to see the red planet in a detail you never thought possible. But even if you don't own any skywatching gear, your very own eyes should allow you a spectacular view of this awe-inspiring event. As always with skywatching events, make sure you wrap up warm and take a reclining chair for maximum comfort. Then you can sit back, relax, and watch the show! 

Science
Space
Astronomy
Mars