Bright Mars makes its closest approach to Earth today. It appears as an overly bright star in the sky.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Mars makes its closest approach to Earth today until September 11, 2035.
About 2 hours after sunset find it low in the eastern sky. At this time Jupiter and Saturn are in the south. As Earth revolves, the planet appears to move westward. Around midnight it is in the south and in the western sky before sunrise.
Today the Red Planet is 38.6 million miles away. The planet appears as an overly bright star in the sky.
This morning Mars appeared in the western sky before sunrise. It shines from in front of the stars of Pisces.
As Mars revolves around the sun in an elliptical orbit, it is at varying distances as Earth passes by about every 26 months.
In a week, October 13, Mars is at opposition with the sun. They appear in opposite directions in the sky.
The planet is retrograding – moving westward compared to the stars – in Pisces, an illusion as our faster moving planet passes the outer planets.
In the photo above, Mars is 2.6° to the lower right of Nu Piscium (ν Psc on the photo) and 0.3° to the lower left of Mu Piscium (μ Psc).
Use a binocular to observe the planet’s motion compared to the starry background as it retrogrades for about another month.
Read more about the planets during October.
April 25, 2021: Mercury passes Evening Star Venus this evening after sunset. Look low in the western sky about 20 minutes after sunset. Mars is marching eastward in Gemini, near the star cluster Messier 35. The bright moon is near Spica.
April 25, 2021: Morning planets Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast before sunrise. Jupiter is in front of the stars of Aquarius, while Saturn’s starry background is Capricornus.
April 24, 2021: Brilliant Evening Star Venus and bright Mercury are entering the evening sky. They are low in the west-northwest during evening twilight. The bright moon is in the southeast in Virgo. Mars moves into Gemini as it approaches the star cluster Messier 35.
April 24, 2021: The bright gibbous moon is near a star in Virgo during the early morning. From parts of the Western Hemisphere, the moon covers the star. Before sunrise, bright morning planets, Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeast before sunrise.
April 23, 2021: Evening Star Venus and Mercury are entering the evening sky. They are found very low in the west-northwest after sunset. The bright moon is in the southeastern sky during the early evening. Mars is moving toward the star cluster Messier 35.