Mosaic of the Valles Marineris hemisphere of Mars projected into point perspective, a view similar to that which one would see from a spacecraft. The distance is 2500 kilometers from the surface of the planet, with the scale being .6km/pixel. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Mars in Opposition (2020)
Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
The Planet Mars
About every two years the sun, the Earth, and the planet Mars will line up for a a chance to see the red planet in big, bright, detail.
This event is called an "opposition" simply because Mars will be directly opposite the sun in orbit. It's special for two reasons.
When celestial objects are directly opposite the sun, they appear brighter in the sky. Mars will shine much more brightly than it usually does.
The opposition also will occur at a point where Earth and Mars are nearing their closest approach to one another. This makes Mars appear bigger in the sky than it normally would.
Mars has two relatively small natural moons, Phobos (about 22 km (14 mi) in diameter) and Deimos (about 12 km (7.5 mi) in diameter), which orbit close to the planet. Both satellites are named after the characters Phobos (panic/fear) and Deimos (terror/dread), who, in Greek mythology, accompanied their father Ares (the Greek counterpart to "Mars:), god of war, into battle.
For more fascinating pictures of Mars, click the Mars gazers below!