3,691 days away
Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Outer Planets feed
Mars's orbit around the Sun will carry it to its closest point to the Earth – its perigee – passing within 0.42 AU of us.
Since the size and brightness of Mars in the night sky both increase when it is close to us, the days around its perigee represent the best time to observe it.
This effect is especially pronounced for Mars since it neighbours the Earth in the Solar System, orbiting a little further out from the Sun than us, at an average distance of 1.52 AU. As a result, it has the greatest variation of all the planets in its distance from the Earth, depending on whether the two planets are on opposite sides of the Sun, or passing next to one another in their respective orbits.
Mars reaches perigee at around the time when it passes the Earth in its orbit. At this time, the Sun, Earth and Mars lie in a straight line, with the Earth in the middle.
Consequently, Mars appears almost exactly opposite the Sun in the sky – a configuration called opposition, when Mars reaches its highest point in the sky at midnight and is visible for much of the night.
Every perigee of Mars is associated with a near-simultaneous opposition, but the two events typically occur a few days apart owing to the significant ellipticity of Mars's orbit.
On this occasion, Mars will attain a maximum angular diameter of 22.1 arcsec at closest approach, and a maximum brightness of magnitude -2.5 .
Even at its closest approach to the Earth, it is never possible to distinguish Mars as more than a star-like point of light with the naked eye, though a simple pair of binoculars is sufficient to reveal it as a disk of light.
From Cambridge , it will be visible between 21:07 and 03:09. It will become accessible around 21:07, when it rises to an altitude of 7° above your south-eastern horizon. It will reach its highest point in the sky at 00:08, 19° above your southern horizon. It will become inaccessible around 03:09 when it sinks below 7° above your south-western horizon.
A chart of the path of Mars across the sky in 2033 can be found here, and a chart of its rising and setting times here.
The position of Mars at the moment it passes perigee will be:
|Object||Right Ascension||Declination||Constellation||Magnitude||Angular Size|
The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.
The sky on 05 Jul 2033
|The sky on 05 July 2033|
9 days old
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.
|05 Jul 2033||– Mars at perigee|
|11 Sep 2035||– Mars at perigee|
|15 Sep 2035||– Mars at opposition|
|11 Nov 2037||– Mars at perigee|
© NASA/Hubble Space Telescope