2020: Earth and Venus From Mars

Two images of the night sky were combined to show Earth and Venus as seen by the Mast Camera aboard NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover on June 5, 2020, the 2,784th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. (NASA Photo)

by Jeffrey L. Hunt

While we have been observing the morning planets – Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn – and Venus is now taking its place there, NASA’s Curiosity Rover captured Earth and Venus in its camera.

On the surface of Mars, Curiosity’s Mast Camera was photographing the sky to measure the brightness of twilight on Earth date June 5, 2020.  The image as a combination of two separate exposures.

In the image, Earth looks brighter than Venus.  Venus is actually about twice as bright as Earth from the Martian surface.

NASA’s Mark Lemmon stated, “The brief photo session was partly to gauge the twilight brightness: During this time of year on Mars, there’s more dust in the air to reflect sunlight, making the air particularly bright.”

Read more about this observation here.

To see Mars in our sky, read this article. Continue to watch the planets with us as Venus makes its grand entrance into the morning sky of Earth.


  1. On the maps of planets in the solar system, Earth and Venus appear to be nearly the same distance from Mars. But I haven’t been able to get the present distance from Venus to Mars to check. Anyone know a good web site for that? – bob k

    1. Jeffrey L. Hunt – Jeffrey L. Hunt is an educational technologist living in suburban Chicago. When he's not learning about and implementing technology in classes, he's running or looking at the stars.
      Jeffrey L. Hunt says:

      They are very close as Venus is past inferior conjunction and moving toward Mars. There are a variety of sources for raw data and calculated answers. For simplicity, I went to Mars in the Starry Night program. Yesterday (06/16), Mars – Venus, 0.87 AU; Mars – Earth, 0.91 AU. Yes, on a chart showing the planet positions as viewed above the ecliptic shows them nearly equally spaced from Mars. So, Earth and Venus are about the same size and same distance from Mars; yet, Venus is nearly a full magnitude brighter than Earth in the Martian sky. This indicates the high reflectivity of the Venusian clouds compared to Earth’s oceans, clouds, and land. Great question! Thanks for asking. – jlh

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