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Thread: Mars 2020 Apparition

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Cool Mars 2020 Apparition

    Mars is currently rising about 22:00 (local daylight saving time) and is brighter than Sirius. It will reach opposition from the Sun during the night of October 13-14, when it will appear a bit brighter than Jupiter. Mars at opposition will be slightly less bright than during its 2018 apparition, but will appear much higher in the sky for observers north of the tropics.

    My related graphics and more details can be found on my Mars webpage: https://www.CurtRenz.com/mars.html

    Photos and descriptions of Mars during its current apparition would be welcome additions to this thread.
    For astronomical graphics and data visit
    https://www.CurtRenz.com/astronomy.html

  2. #2
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    Is it going to be as big as the full moon again this year?

    Just kidding, of course! I should try to look for it tonight.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  3. #3
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    Mars is rarely brighter then Jupiter, but it is now.

    Info-Mars.JPG
    For astronomical graphics and data visit
    https://www.CurtRenz.com/astronomy.html

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2020
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    Quote Originally Posted by Centaur View Post
    Mars is rarely brighter then Jupiter, but it is now.

    Info-Mars.JPG
    I'd like to understand why the brightness of Mars changes. Does it depend on the position of the Sun? I tried to find the answer, but I didn't understand what the addiction is. Can someone explain this pattern?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kay Burton View Post
    I'd like to understand why the brightness of Mars changes. Does it depend on the position of the Sun? I tried to find the answer, but I didn't understand what the addiction is. Can someone explain this pattern?
    Not the position of the sun but the relationship between the orbits of Mars and Earth. Right now Mars and Earth are close to each other in their respective orbits. Over the next few months Earth will draw away from Mars like two race cars on inner and outer tracks with the earth on the inner track. So closer = brighter.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kay Burton View Post
    I'd like to understand why the brightness of Mars changes. Does it depend on the position of the Sun? I tried to find the answer, but I didn't understand what the addiction is. Can someone explain this pattern?
    Quote Originally Posted by schlaugh View Post
    Not the position of the sun but the relationship between the orbits of Mars and Earth. Right now Mars and Earth are close to each other in their respective orbits. Over the next few months Earth will draw away from Mars like two race cars on inner and outer tracks with the earth on the inner track. So closer = brighter.
    Welcome to the message board, Kay, and thanks for the good question.

    Keep in mind that the planets like the Moon do not produce their own light, but we see sunlight reflected off of them.

    schlaugh is quite right that the distance between Mars and Earth is the overwhelming determinant of how bright Mars appears to us. The distance differences are particularly significant in the case of Mars.

    There are lesser factors that also affect our perception of Mars brightess. These include Mars distance from the Sun, and Mars phase angle relative to Earth, i.e. how gibbous or full it appears.

    Below is a chart I created. It shows the positioning relative to the Sun of Mars and Earth at oppositions. These are separated by a little more than 2 years, during which time Mars orbits the Sun somewhat more than once, while the Earth does so more then twice. Click the thumbnail to enlarge the chart. I hope it helps.

    Mars-Orbit.JPG
    For astronomical graphics and data visit
    https://www.CurtRenz.com/astronomy.html

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