Keep your eyes on the skies this week.
Starting on Saturday, Mars is set to shine brighter in our earthly skies than it has since 2003. You may even be able to pick up on some surface details, like volcanoes.
This celestial celebration is thanks to Mars Opposition — when Earth is directly between the red planet and the sun.
The planet is visible from sunrise to sunset, reaching its peak in our skies around midnight, according to NASA. It’ll even appear brighter than Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system.
Mars will be the closest to Earth in October than it will be for another 15 years. The Allan I. Carswell Observatory will hold a series of live events & @YorkUScience Prof Elaina Hyde @AstroHyde is available discuss what you can see on the red planet https://t.co/kZh2jrTUGB pic.twitter.com/RI2vc51t10
— York University News (@YorkUnews) September 28, 2020
“October is a great time for viewing Mars, as the planet is visible all night right now, and reaches its highest point in the sky around midnight,” says NASA.
“This period of excellent visibility coincides with the event known as opposition, which occurs about every two years, when Mars is directly on the opposite side of Earth from the Sun. This is also around the time when Mars and Earth come closest together in their orbits, meaning the Red Planet is at its brightest in the sky, so don’t miss it.”
The event will last 10 days, peaking on October 13 when Mars fully aligns. The planet won’t appear to be this bright again until 2035, according to EarthSky and York University’s Allan I. Carswell Observatory in Toronto.
York University’s Allan I. Carswell Observatory will broadcast the event on their YouTube channel on October 6 and again from October 11 to 15 starting at 8 pm ET/ 5pm PT.
Located on the York University campus, the observatory’s one-metre telescope is the largest of any university in Canada. While it is normally open on Wednesday evenings for public viewings, the observatory is closed due to COVID-19.