Mars is not only the planet that Earthlings seem most obsessed with, it is one of the most beautiful objects in the night sky. It shines a ruby red that stands out against the pale shimmer of the stars around it. It’s a tempting sight every time you see it, but October 2020 is a awesome it’s time to watch the red planet from your garden.
This month Mars will shine brighter than at any other time of the year and will be bigger in our sky than it will be again for nearly 15 years. It all adds up to making October a month where you should look for the red “star” that shines in the eastern sky after dark.
On October 6, Mars will be just 38.6 million miles away, according to Sky & Telescope. It is closer than it will again until September 2035. Because of that proximity, it will be as big in the sky as it will be again until that date, almost 1
Then, on October 13, Mars will strike the opposition, a point where the Earth is directly between the Sun and Mars. At that time Mars will reach its absolute brightest point of the year, rising at sunset and staying until dawn. Opposition to Mars comes once every 26 months, according to Astronomy. However, some oppositions occur with Mars further away. This is relatively close.
However, you don’t have to go out on opposition night to enjoy Mars. It will be incredibly bright all month long. In fact, it will be the fourth brightest object in the sky behind the sun, moon and Venus, the morning star. It will hold that rank throughout the ghostly month before giving fourth place to Jupiter.
Besides being bright and orange-red in color, Mars will be easy to spot whenever you go out and look. It’s not just the night of the opposition, the planet will be out for most of the night throughout the month. Go out and admire the big red boy in the sky.