Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Outer Planets feed
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 be difficult to observe as it will appear no higher than 18° above the horizon. It will become visible around 18:31 (PST) as the dusk sky fades, 18° above your southern horizon. It will then sink towards the horizon, setting at 22:21.
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 29 October 2016|
28 days old
All times shown in PDT.
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.
|29 Oct 2016||– Mars at perihelion|
|26 Jul 2017||– Mars at solar conjunction|
|05 Aug 2017||– Mars at apogee|
|07 Oct 2017||– Mars at aphelion|