Say hello to Mars from your window!2 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
Look out your window and try to spot the brightest dot in the sky. If you are lucky, you might get to see Mars!
For the first time in 15 years, our friendliest* neighbourhood planet, Mars, has appeared close enough to be seen without a telescope throughout this month!
But, the planet is still 62.1 million kilometers away from us!
Scientists record that the closest that Mars can come to Earth is 54.6 million kilometers. However, that has never happened till date. Its furthest distance has been noted as 401 million kilometers.
So, how has Mars’ dance around earth resulted in the bright spot outside your window?
Earth and Mars have orbits that are not a perfect circle. Therefore, once in a long while, their orbits around the sun bring them closer to each other. NASA explains:
“If Earth and Mars had perfectly circular orbits, their minimum distance would always be the same. However, they have elliptical (egg-shaped) paths.” Not only are the orbits elliptical, they are also tilted. This means that these instances of closeness are not always identical.
So, what you can see today may not be what you will see at any other point in your lifetime!
On a clear night, you will be able to see Mars rise in the early evening in the east opposite to the Sun and to the Moon’s right. It rises the highest in the sky at midnight.
So, before you go to bed, look out of your window and say goodnight to our new celestial visitor.
If you need help in finding Mars, check out the Sky View app.
*Mars is considered to be the second most hospitable planet after Earth in the whole solar system. The landmass of Mars is also very similar to Earth. Also, a lot of our space interaction starts with Mars. US, China and UAE have sent their missions to Mars in 2020. How about you find out about India’s Magalyaan or Mission to Mars?
Image sourced from EarthSky.
With excerpts from Nasa Science.