© NASA/Hubble Space Telescope

Mars at perihelion

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Outer Planets feed

Please wait
Loading 0/4
Click and drag to rotate
Mouse wheel to zoom in/out
Touch with mouse to dismiss
The sky at

Mars's 687-day orbit around the Sun will carry it to its closest point to the Sun – its perihelion – at a distance of 1.38 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 Cambridge, at the moment of perihelion it will become visible around 16:53 (EDT) as the dusk sky fades, 21° above your south-western horizon. It will then sink towards the horizon, setting 3 hours and 29 minutes after the Sun at 19:36.

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 exact position of Mars at the moment it passes perihelion will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude Angular Size
Mars 20h32m40s -20°09' Capricornus 1.0 5.0"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 12 December 2014
Sunrise
07:03
Sunset
16:11
Twilight ends
17:52
Twilight begins
05:22

20-day old moon
Waning Gibbous

70%

20 days old

Planets
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 07:22 11:47 16:11
Venus 08:02 12:29 16:56
Moon 22:30 04:10 10:47
Mars 10:07 14:53 19:38
Jupiter 20:57 04:00 10:59
Saturn 05:12 10:06 15:01
All times shown in EST.

Source

The circumstances of this event were computed using the DE405 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

08 Apr 2014  –  Mars at opposition
22 May 2016  –  Mars at opposition
27 Jul 2018  –  Mars at opposition
13 Oct 2020  –  Mars at opposition

Image credit

© NASA/Hubble Space Telescope

Cambridge

Latitude:
Longitude:
Timezone:

42.38°N
71.11°W
EDT

Color scheme