This month, Mars will be at its best.
The neighboring planet will approach the minimum distance from Earth and provide a spectacle that will not repeat for about two years. For the whole month, however, the performances of Jupiter, Venus, for observant will be continued, through the show of the International Space Station.
For throughout April it will be hard to miss Mars if someone will look after sunset to the southeast, in the direction of the constellation of Virgo: low on the horizon will see a yellow – orange dot that will compete in the brightness of Sirius, the brightest star. Above and to the left of Mars, the familiar constellation of Ursa Major.
How bright and great Mars looks in the sky that depends on which side is being illuminated by the Sun at any time, and its distance from Earth. The Earth – Mars distance fluctuates as the two planets move in different orbits around the Sun.
The interval between them can touch the 400 million km. On April 14, though, will diminish to the minimum of about 57 million kilometers.
“These opportunities only come around every two years. Most of the time , the blasted Mars is too far away , “says Alan Mak Robert magazine « Sky & Telescope ».
On this day the Earth is between the Sun and Mars, a position that astronomers call opposition. The planet will be visible to the east, while he will be turned to the northern hemisphere towards the Earth, one can distinguish with an amateur telescope the polar ice cap.
At the same time that occurs every evening Mars starts the show at the same time with Jupiter, by far the brightest object in the sky after the Moon. As the EarthSky.org marks, is difficult to confuse one two planets, Mars appears as the southeast and at the southwest Jupiter and higher in the sky. Indeed, from 5 to 7 April, the giant planet will appear to pass near the Moon.
The other “stars”
Shortly after sunset someone can admire Venus, which appears not only in the east but in the evening and before dawn, so it will be the brightest sign in the morning sky. On April 14, yet, a total lunar eclipse will occur, but will not be visible from Greece.
For the more advanced, NASA offers the service Spot the Station that informs users when they can see the International Space Station from their site. When the sunlight reflects on it, the orbital band shines more brightly than Venus as is running in the sky.