© NASA/Hubble Space Telescope

Mars at aphelion

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 furthest point to the Sun – its aphelion – at a distance of 1.67 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 Fairfield, at the moment of aphelion it will become visible around 21:12 (EST) as the dusk sky fades, 32° above your western horizon. It will then sink towards the horizon, setting at 00:17.

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 2023 can be found here, and a chart of its rising and setting times here.

The position of Mars at the moment it passes aphelion will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude Angular Size
Mars 08h33m10s +20°19' Cancer 1.6 4.7"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 30 May 2023
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

11-day old moon
Waxing Gibbous


11 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 04:24 11:13 18:02
Venus 08:33 16:07 23:42
Moon 15:43 21:28 02:51
Mars 09:36 16:55 00:16
Jupiter 03:42 10:26 17:10
Saturn 01:33 06:59 12:25
All times shown in EDT.


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

30 May 2023  –  Mars at aphelion
18 Oct 2023  –  Mars at apogee
18 Nov 2023  –  Mars at solar conjunction
08 May 2024  –  Mars at perihelion

Image credit

© NASA/Hubble Space Telescope






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