How to watch Mars rule the night sky in October

Mars will be bright and beautiful in the sky of October 2020.

NASA

Forget Halloween. This month of October revolves around the glory of Mars, as the red planet is sparkling in the night sky. You can enjoy Mars as a bright spot throughout the month, but there are two special dates to mark on your calendar: October 6 when the planet approaches Earth, and October 13 when it is in opposition.

Mars discovery

Mars is known to be a “red” planet, but its color in the night sky is a bit more on the Halloween side of the spectrum. It appears to the naked eye as a bright orange-red dot, like a small patch of sparkling rust.

Mars’ distinct color is one clue I found in the dark. Look at the eastern sky to notice its height at night. It will look bright this month if the local weather cooperates to give you good visibility.

Close Approach: 6th of October

Tuesday, October 6 marks the approach of Mars to Earth. This would be a great time to grab a telescope and get a little better looking. Give a wave to NASA Roving Perseverance While you are at it. The car is on its way to the planet in February 2021.

NASA shared an artist’s view of approaching Tuesday, October 6 compared to their last snuggling in July 2018. The sizes shown are very similar. This year, Mars will have a distance of at least 38.6 million miles (62 million km), which is about 3 million miles farther than it was in 2018.

This artist’s point of view shows the apparent sizes of Mars during the close proximity in 2018 and 2020.

NASA

Opposition: October 13th

When Mars and the Sun line up with Earth in the middle, the red planet is said to be in opposition. This is the perfect time to track the movement of Mars across the sky. It will rise in the east when the sun sets, move across the sky and then set in the west as the sun rises.

NASA describes the opposition as “the perfect“ Mars. ”Tuesday, October 13th is a good time to enjoy the opposition You will have to wait more than two years for it to happen again.

“A model of the racetrack for planetary orbits explains why. Earth and Mars are like runners on a track. Earth is inside and Mars outside,” NASA said in its October Blog. “Every 26 months, fast Earth catches and corrupts slower Mars. Opposition occurs just as Earth takes the lead.”

Mars isn’t the only show in the sky for October. You can also Looking forward to a rare blue moon for Halloween When our neighbor is full moon on October 31st. It’s beautiful.

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