Our chance to see Mars in the night sky


Mars will be visible for much of the night.

Saturn is the most distant world we can see easily without a telescope, however, it doesn't shine as brightly as Mars or Jupiter do. Later, when the sun sets, it should appear big, bright and orange in the night sky (if there aren't any clouds of course).

Stargazers are in for a treat as Mars approaches its closest point to Earth for 11 years. Both Earth and Mars do not have ideal circular orbits which mean that there is a certain tug of war between the planets with their gravitational forces that shape their orbits. In fact, you'll probably be able to find it without a star chart or an astronomy app.

"Just look southeast after the end of twilight, and you can't miss it", senior editor of Sky & Telescope magazine, Alan MacRobert, said in a statement. Joe Rao of Space.com says that Mars was even closer to the Earth in 2003 because it was at opposition, which is when the sun, Earth, and Mars are in a single file in space, just 42 hours before it reached its closest approach to Earth that had not happened in 60,000 years. Although the largest planet in our solar system, now positioned in the southwest, is farther from the sun than Mars, it is 20 times larger in diameter.

After you have seen Mars shining bright, in the morning sky, you may want to get an even better view.

"Saturn is next to Mars at the moment and you can see the difference between the two planets".

Use Mars to guide you to the planet Saturn and the star Antares for months to come.

Every two years, Earth catches up to Mars' orbit and aligns with the planet and the sun in a straight line.

At around 2:35 pm Pacific time, the Red Planet will be a mere 46.7 million miles away.

Mars will be the closest it has been to Earth for more than a decade tonight.

Scientists calculate they won't get that close again until August 28, 2287.