If the weathers are permitting, you should be getting the closest view of the Mars tonight, the 6th Oct 2020. That is the day mars comes closest to earth and shines brighter! Astronomers have stated that the planet Mars will be unusually closest to the earth tonight. Mars will only be just around 38.6 million miles away from the earth and this will be the closest that the red planet will get closer to our planet in the next 15 years! This is indeed one of the rare celestial events like the Mercury transit the happened in 2019.
Just get your telescope out and get to watch Mars coming closest to the earth shining brightest tonight when it comes quite closer to the earth. If you are a stargazing fan and an enthusiast, this should be your day as the Mars will be bright, big and can perhaps be even seen without a telescope. This visual can ideally happen once or twice in every 15 to 17 years.
How can I see Mars Tonight?
You can look lowest in the eastern sky soon after the fall of the darkness to witness the fiery sized “star” with a slight pumpkin hue. If you have a telescope, it may be an excellent view. However, if weather permits, you should be able to see it even with the naked eye depending on your region and location.
Like Joe Rao from Space.com states you can “appreciate the planet’s true hue, a yellowish orange, the color of a dry desert under a high sun – which is exactly what you’re looking at,” .
Don’t fall for the Mars Hoax!
While you enjoy the show and the brightness of the Mars, NASA has warned the public and enthusiasts not to fall to the Mars Hoax doing the rounds. The so called claims indicate that the Mars will look as big as our Moon. NASA has clarified long ago that this will not be the case and this is something that can never happen.
NASA has even gone on record to negate the Mars Hoax claims. “if that were true, we’d be in big trouble given the gravitational pulls on Earth, Mars, and our moon!” – NASA has clarified. Even with the closest ever reach, Mars will just look like a dot of light with the naked eye.
What makes Mars come close to earth?
All this has to do with the elliptical orbit that both Earth and Mars have around the Sun. Because of the elliptical transit, both the planets come quite close together. The closest of these encounters occur when the Earth reaches Aphelion which is the farthest point of the Earth from the Sun and the Mars reaches Periheelion which its closest point to the Sun.
This is also accompanied by another celestial phenomenon called Opposition where the Mars and the Moon on opposite sides of the Earth. This makes the the Mars shine brighter than on any other day.
To make you understand the concept, this video from ScienceAlert should be handy enough.
When will be the next time Mars comes closest to Earth?
If you miss it today, you will need to wait for another 15 years to witness Mars getting so close to the Earth. Next event that this phenomenon can happen will be in 2035.
But, you need not worry if the weathers are not permitting today or you miss the opportunity to view Mars from close quarters today. Mars will continue to look bright throughout the month. Except for the Moon, you will find mars as the brightest object in the sky in its region all October.