Update for December 8: You can see Mars at its best when it reaches opposition in several live webcasts, including the one above, starting with Macdonald Observatory. 9pm EST (0200 GMT).
This week offers many opportunities to see the Red Planet.
A full moon will be bright on Wednesday (Dec. 7). tuesday During an event called lunar eclipse. And on Thursday (Dec. 8) Mars will be in opposition, i.e. inside EarthIn the heavens, it is directly opposite the sun. These events coincide with Mars being near perigee (closest point to Earth). Happened on November 30.
A perfect storm of astronomical events means this is a wonderful week to see Mars in the night sky, appearing bigger and brighter than usual, and easier to spot near it. Full cold moon. Whether you have cloudy skies or can’t get outside, you’re still in luck: thanks to several free online livestreams, there are plenty of opportunities to see Mars at its best this week.
Here’s how to see Mars in person this week
Many parts of North America, parts of Europe and North Africa will see a lunar eclipse in the night sky on December 7 and December 8.
The scene begins about an hour after sunset Taurus constellation On December 7 for North American sky watchers, the full moon and Mars move closer together (in Europe, the event occurs just before sunrise on December 8). Depending on one’s location, the red planet will disappear behind the moon and reappear an hour later.
Together, the sky and the telescope form a guide When and where you can see Mars (opens in new tab)It will disappear behind the moon during the lunar eclipse this week.
Griffith Observatory live coverage of the lunar eclipse of Mars
On that day Wednesday (Dec. 7)Griffith Laboratory in Los Angeles, California is one Free online livestream (opens in new tab) Lunar eclipse of Mars. The broadcast will begin 9pm EST (0200 GMT on December 8), weather permitting. Mars will set behind the Moon 9:31 pm EST (0231 GMT) and reappear after an hour.
The observatory will also upload a time-lapse recording of the event on Thursday (Dec. 8). 11 a.m. EST (1600 GMT).
McDonald Observatory of Mars at opposition
The MacDonald Observatory at the University of Texas at Austin, along with the Lowell Observatory in Arizona, will provide live coverage of Mars at the opposition. The broadcast begins on Thursday (Dec. 8). 9pm EST (0200 GMT on December 9) and can be found in McDonald Observatory’s YouTube channel (opens in new tab).
Hosts from both observatories will provide commentary during the event, which will include discussions on the geography and history of Mars and space missions to the Red Planet. Weather permitting, the livestream will include live views of Mars in opposition to telescopes at both observatories.
A virtual telescope project of the Moon covering Mars in opposition is live
The Virtual telescope project (opens in new tab) Provides free live streaming of the Moon occulting Mars in opposition. The broadcast will begin Thursday 10pm EST (0300 GMT on December 9) and can be seen Project’s YouTube channel (opens in new tab).
What does it mean if Mars is opposite?
When astronomers say that a planet is in opposition, it means that the planet, the Earth, and the Sun are all in the same straight line, in the middle of the Earth. The object of this arrangement is the planet in reality Opposite The Sun, hence the term “opposite,” illuminates the planet brightly from our perspective on Earth.
When the Red Planet is at opposition, it is much brighter than usual, so it is much easier to see in the night sky. This event only happens every 26 months, and the planet’s elliptical orbit is closer to Earth during some oppositions than others.
During this week’s opposition, Mars will be closest to Earth until 2033. Collected by the Royal Astronomical Society Great explainer (opens in new tab) At the event, including the video below.
What is a lunar eclipse of Mars?
The word “occult” means to hide or hide from view; When astronomers refer to an occultation, it refers to the phenomenon of one celestial object passing in front of another in an observer’s view, obscuring the object behind it. In the case of Mars’ lunar eclipse this week, that means the Moon will appear to hide or “obscure” the red planet from Earth. For many observers, Mars will disappear behind the Moon for about an hour before coming back into view.
There are enough hides throughout the year International Twilight Society (opens in new tab) It provides detailed information like exact locations and timings of other disappearances.
There is Griffith Laboratory Posted an explanatory video (opens in new tab) of the event, can be found below.
Read more: What is occultism?
Whether you’re new to skywatching or have been watching for years, don’t miss our guides Best binoculars And this Best binoculars See the Martian occultation and other incredible things in the night sky. To capture the best Mars or Moon images you can, check out our recommendations for the best Astronomical Photographic Instruments And Best lenses for astrophotography.
Editor’s note: If you’ve taken a great photo of a Mars opposition or lunar eclipse and want to share it with Space.com’s readers, send us your photo(s), comments, and your name and location. [email protected].