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.
October 23, 2021: This morning the bright moon is near the Pleiades star cluster. Mercury is making its best morning appearance. In the evening sky, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn are easy to spot.
October 22. 2021: Speedy Mercury is low in the east before sunrise. It is putting on its best morning performance of the year. Arcturus, in the east-northeast, is about the same altitude as Mercury.
October 21-November 1, 2021: Brilliant Venus steps through Ophiuchus to the upper left of the star Antares in the southwest after sunset . Afterward, the planet steps farther eastward.
October 21, 2021: The bright moon is low in the west about an hour before sunrise. Mercury is in the east at about the same altitude as Arcturus. Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter shine from the evening sky.
December 18, 2021: This is the anticipated launch date of the James Webb Space Telescope, the largest and most sophisticated space telescope view the universe.