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.
Mars and Morning Star Venus are nearing their opposition so that they do not appear together in the morning sky for the remainder of 2020. In the evening sky, three planets – Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn – along with the moon, are easy to locate.
Bright Mars is visible in the western sky before sunrise. Brilliant Venus makes its last appearance in Leo for this morning apparition. In the evening sky, the crescent moon is near Jupiter and Saturn, while bright Mars begins the night in the east-southeast.
Morning Star Venus and Mars are approaching the date when they do not appear in the morning sky again for the remainder of the year. The lunar crescent appears among the stars of Sagittarius, near giant planets Jupiter and Saturn as they approach their Great Conjunction on December 21, 2020.