This Memorial Day, Mars will be closer to Earth than it’s been at any point in the past 11 years. Back in 2005, Mars got up close and personal with our Earth – we didn’t even really have smartphones back then. Now, here on Memorial Day, Mars will be appearing low in the east-southeast sky just after darkness. When you see it, Mars will be the color of sand – or just a bit more orange.
Mars will be brighter than any other star or moon or planet around it on Monday night – and throughout the week. This is true whenever Mars is this near the Earth, save times when our Moon is in the path of or around our view of space.
Above image copyright 2012 Espenak – “Leo and Mars – II” – from Astropixels. of note: Mars wont look exactly like this to you, necessarily. It will be a similar color, but this photo was captured at Bifrost Astronomical Observatory, Portal, AZ.
According to Space.com, you’d have seen our Moon a lot brighter than Mars on the 21st of May – and again on the 16th of June.
You can learn more about the Mars / Earth Opposition going on right now in our article Mars at its Brightest – and through the video below from NASA Goddard.
On Monday night this red planet will be as bright as it’s going to get – and as close as it’s going to get – to our Earth. Throughout the week you’ll still be able to spot the planet in our night sky just so long as you’ve got a clear sky to see through.
According to Belgian astronomer Jean Meeus, Mars will come within 46.78 million miles (75.28 million kilometers) of Earth at 5:35 p.m. EDT (2135 GMT). You can learn more about how to calculate when planets are in what position and when by having a peek at the book “Astronomical Algorithms” by Jean Meeus. You’ll find out when the next close approach by Mars to Earth will be there too!
So grab a compass – or a compass app – and set your eyes towards the East-Southeast sky any night this week – just after darkness. That’ll be your best time to spot this red planet.
Again, Mars will not appear red, but certainly in the warm color spectrum. A bit lighter – closer to the color of C-3PO’s gold coverings than it is his new red arm.
Source: Slash Gear