Newsletter Archive

Update on the Opposition of Mars

October 10, 2020

I hope you've been keeping an eye on Mars in the evening skies recently. Just a reminder that during the coming week, Mars will be as close to opposition and as bright in the sky, and also as close to us, as it will be until the next opposition over two years from now. The exact date of opposition is this coming Tuesday, the 13th.

As long as you're outdoors looking at Mars, turn a little to the right and face southeast, and you should see two more bright stars in the sky. The extra bright one on the right is Jupiter, and the dimmer one to the left (east) of Jupiter is Saturn. If you have a telescope or a pair of binoculars, treat yourself to the beautiful moons of Jupiter or the rings of Saturn. If you don't have a telescope, turn a little more to the right and imagine the sun below the western horizon. Now connect all of them—Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, and the Sun—with an imaginary arc across the sky. That's the solar system. You can see the solar system in the night sky, traced out by the line of planets.