Mars appeared brightest on Tuesday night due to the perfect planetary arrangement, which allowed it to reflect more sunlight to Earth.
This is because Mars was in opposition or on the exact opposite side of the Earth from the Sun, The Washington Post reports. This, along with the fact that Mars is particularly close to Earth in its orbit at the moment, has made the planet so fresh that amateur astronomers with telescopes can take clear pictures of its surface right from their backyards.
You don’t need a spaceship to see Mars! You can’t miss it in the eastern sky just after sunset or south until midnight local time. Today, Mars is in opposition, which means that it is located directly opposite the Sun, which makes it particularly bright. https://t.co/gAbOkp9Fs3 pic.twitter.com/N59zEyXYEh
̵1; NASA Mars (@NASAMars) October 13, 2020
Photographers documented the event well, as with this video shared on Reddit, which shows that the entire planet is spinning clearly.
Mars, a stack of 1200 frames of Huawei P20 through a 17 mm eyepiece and 2x Barlow of Skywatcher 127 Mak-Cas, processed in Photoshop. pic.twitter.com/QqTRaXYWoB
– jack mullion (@jackmullion) October 15, 2020
Mars is actually quite often in opposition – about once every 26 months, according to NASA. But what is much rarer is that the opposition is lined up with Mars and Earth, which pass close to each other in their orbits. This only happens once every 15 to 17 years, making it a rare occurrence on Tuesday nights.
Mars really shines on pic.twitter.com/5Z5cGQIAek
– Mary (@ BLOODYM4RIY) October 15, 2020
Mars actually made its closest approach to Earth a week earlier, on October 6, and will be approaching again so close to 2035, WaPo reports.
# Mars in opposition from my backyard in # Johannesburg 2020.10.13 UTC 20:45. Captured with # ZWOASI224mc 3 x barlow and Celestron 8 “. Sharpcap – Autostakkert – Registax – 5 x 3000 frames stacked photos derotized with WinJupos #Astrophotography pic.twitter.com/UV5FRijj39
– Grant Petersen (@ GP_O11) October 13, 2020
But in case you missed the show, Mars will once again pass close to Earth on the first day of December 2022 and enter opposition a week later, creating a rerun – albeit less dazzling – of Tuesday’s show.
I almost forgot!
Happy day of opposition to Mars, people. pic.twitter.com/4F7caSo3Tn
– Dave Eagle FRAS 🔭 Star Craving Mad! (@Dave_StarGeezer) October 13, 2020
READ MORE: Mars will shine extremely bright tonight, facing the sun[[[[The Washington Post]
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