© NASA/Hubble Space Telescope

Mars at perihelion

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 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 Truro, at the moment of perihelion it will be visible in the dawn sky, rising at 23:22 (GMT) and reaching an altitude of 43° above the southern horizon before fading from view as dawn breaks around 05:28.

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 2020 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 01h15m50s +03°49' Pisces -1.1 14.9"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 03 August 2020
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

14-day old moon
Waxing Gibbous


14 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 04:30 12:26 20:22
Venus 02:29 10:14 17:59
Moon 21:26 00:56 05:00
Mars 23:23 05:48 12:09
Jupiter 19:48 23:54 04:04
Saturn 20:12 00:31 04:46
All times shown in BST.


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

03 Aug 2020  –  Mars at perihelion
23 Aug 2020  –  Mars 2020: a great chance to see the red planet
06 Oct 2020  –  Mars at perigee
14 Oct 2020  –  Mars at opposition

Image credit

© NASA/Hubble Space Telescope






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