THE spectacular scene of the Earth, Sun and Mars will on a straight line, because of which Mars will appear to be brightest and biggest tonight.
Mars will look bigger and brighter due to a phenomenon called ‘opposition’, during which the Earth, Sun and Mars are aligned on a straight line.
Mars will be visible from dusk to dawn and is estimated to appear nearly three times brighter than Sirius.
This is because of a phenomenon called ‘opposition’. During this, the Earth, Sun and Mars are aligned on a straight line and Mars is the farthest away from Earth.
Earth, Sun and Mars will on a straight line at 23.20 GMT (around 4.50am on Wednesday).
Opposition happens because of the different speeds at which Earth and Mars orbit the Sun and the different paths they take. Since Earth is closer to the Sun, it is able to orbit it at a quicker pace than Mars. It is estimated the Earth makes two trips around the Sun in about the same amount of time that Mars takes to make one trip.
“During opposition, Mars and the Sun are on directly opposite sides of Earth. From our perspective, Mars rises in the east just as the sun sets in the west. Then, after staying up in the sky the entire night, Mars sets in the west just as the sun rises in the east. Since Mars and the sun appear on opposite sides of the sky, we say that Mars is in ‘opposition’,” Nasa explains in a blog.
When does ‘opposition’ occur? According to Nasa, Mars oppositions happen about every 26 months. Moreover, every 15 or 17 years, opposition occurs within a few weeks of Mars’ perihelion (the point in its orbit when it is closest to the sun).
This year, Mars opposition will occur tonight i.e. October 13.
Where can opposition occur?
Explaining the phenomenon of opposition, Nasa says it can occur anywhere along Mars’ orbit.
When it happens while Mars is closest to the Sun (called “perihelic opposition”), Mars is particularly close to Earth.
The opposition that happened in 2003 was the closest approach between Mars and Earth in nearly 60,000 years.
The next time that Earth and Mars will be closer than this will be on August 28, 2287!