© NASA/Hubble Space Telescope

Mars at aphelion

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Outer Planets feed

Objects: Mars
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The sky at

Mars's 687-day orbit around the Sun will carry it to its furthest point to the Sun – its aphelion – at a distance of 1.67 AU.

Unlike most of the planets, which follow almost exactly circular orbits around the Sun which only vary in their distance from the Sun by a few percent, Mars has a significantly elliptical orbit. Its distance from the Sun varies between 1.38 AU and 1.67 AU – a variation of over 20% – meaning that it receives 31% less heat and light from the Sun at aphelion as compared to perihelion.

Finding Mars

Mars's distance from the Sun doesn't affect its appearance. From Ashburn, at the moment of aphelion it will be visible in the morning sky, becoming accessible around 01:22, when it reaches an altitude of 11° above your eastern horizon. It will then reach its highest point in the sky at 06:13, 48° above your southern horizon. It will be lost to dawn twilight around 06:52, 47° above your southern horizon.

Begin typing the name of a town near to you, and then select the town from the list of options which appear below.

A chart of the path of Mars across the sky in 2014 can be found here, and a chart of its rising and setting times here.

The position of Mars at the moment it passes aphelion will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude Angular Size
Mars 12h48m40s 2°50'S Virgo 0.8 7.0"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 02 January 2014
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

1-day old moon
Waxing Crescent


1 day old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 07:52 12:28 17:05
Venus 08:08 13:10 18:12
Moon 08:09 13:30 18:56
Mars 00:18 06:12 12:06
Jupiter 17:09 00:32 07:54
Saturn 03:25 08:35 13:46
All times shown in EST.


The circumstances of this event were computed using the DE430 planetary ephemeris published by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

This event was automatically generated by searching the ephemeris for planetary alignments which are of interest to amateur astronomers, and the text above was generated based on an estimate of your location.

Related news

05 Mar 2012  –  Mars at perigee
08 Apr 2014  –  Mars at opposition
14 Apr 2014  –  Mars at perigee
22 May 2016  –  Mars at opposition

Image credit

© NASA/Hubble Space Telescope






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