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.
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.
The position of Mars at the moment it passes aphelion will be:
|Object||Right Ascension||Declination||Constellation||Magnitude||Angular Size|
The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.
|The sky on 02 January 2014|
1 day old
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.
|05 Mar 2012||– Mars at perigee|
|08 Apr 2014||– Mars at opposition|
|14 Apr 2014||– Mars at perigee|
|22 May 2016||– Mars at opposition|
© NASA/Hubble Space Telescope