© NASA/Hubble Space Telescope

Mars at perihelion

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Outer Planets feed

Objects: Mars
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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 Ashburn, at the moment of perihelion it will become visible around 17:40 (EST), 18° above your south-western horizon, as dusk fades to darkness. It will then sink towards the horizon, setting 2 hours and 42 minutes after the Sun at 19:38.

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 2029 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 21h00m40s 18°13'S Capricornus 1.1 4.5"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 29 November 2021
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

25-day old moon
Waning Crescent


25 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 07:12 11:57 16:43
Venus 10:29 15:03 19:38
Moon 01:23 07:52 14:10
Mars 05:42 10:46 15:49
Jupiter 12:08 17:24 22:40
Saturn 11:22 16:21 21:20
All times shown in EST.


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

29 Mar 2029  –  Mars at perigee
04 May 2031  –  Mars at opposition
11 May 2031  –  Mars at perigee
27 Jun 2033  –  Mars at opposition

Image credit

© NASA/Hubble Space Telescope






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