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 Seattle, at the moment of perihelion it will become visible around 17:07 (PDT), 17° above your south-western horizon, as dusk fades to darkness. It will then sink towards the horizon, setting 3 hours and 26 minutes after the Sun at 19:45.
The exact position of Mars at the moment it passes perihelion will be:
|Object||Right Ascension||Declination||Constellation||Magnitude||Angular Size|
The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.
|The sky on 12 December 2014|
20 days old
All times shown in PST.
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.
|14 Apr 2014||– Mars at perigee|
|22 May 2016||– Mars at opposition|
|30 May 2016||– Mars at perigee|
|26 Jul 2018||– Mars at opposition|
© NASA/Hubble Space Telescope