Mars appeared on its absolute brightest Tuesday night due to a perfect planetary array that allowed it to reflect more sunlight toward Earth.
It’s because Mars was in opposition or on the exact opposite side of the earth from the sun, Washington Post reports. This, combined with the fact that Mars happened to be particularly close to Earth in its orbit right now, made the planet so sharp that amateur astronomers with telescopes could take sharp photos of its surface right from their backwaters.
You do not need a spacecraft to see Mars! You can not miss it in the eastern sky just after sunset or to the south at midnight local time. Today, Mars is in opposition, meaning it is located directly opposite the sun, making 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 time-lapse video shared on Reddit showing that the entire planet is clearly rotating.
Mars, stuck with 1200 frames from a Huawei P20 through a 17 mm eyepiece and 2x Barlow on a Skywatcher 127 Mak-Cas processed in Photoshop. pic.twitter.com/QqTRaXYWoB
– jack mullion (@jackmullion) October 15, 2020
In fact, Mars is in opposition quite often – about once every 26 months, according to NASA. But what is much less common is that resistance line up with Mars and Earth passing close together in their orbits. It only happens once every 15 to 17 years, making Tuesday night a rare occasion.
mars shines tho pic.twitter.com/5Z5cGQIAek
– mary (@ BLOODYM4RIY) October 15, 2020
Mars actually made its closest approach to Earth a week earlier, on October 6, and it is not approaching that close again until 2035, WaPo reports.
#March at resistance from my backyard in #Johannesburg 2020.10.13 UTC 20:45. Captured with a # ZWOASI224mc 3 x barlow and Celestron 8 “. Sharpcap – Autostacker – Registax – 5 x 3000 frame stacked images deroted with WinJupos #Astrophotography pic.twitter.com/UV5FRijj39
– Grant Petersen (@ GP_O11) October 13, 2020
But if you missed the show, Mars will again pass near Earth on the first day of December 2022 and will go into opposition a week later, creating a repeat – albeit a less dazzling one – of Tuesday’s show.
I almost forgot!
Happy March Opposition Day folks. pic.twitter.com/4F7caSo3Tn
– Dave Eagle FRAS 🔭 Star Craving Mad! (@Dave_StarGeezer) October 13, 2020
READ MORE: Mars shines extra bright tonight, opposite the sun[[[[Washington Post]
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