Red planet Mars will be brightest and closest “it can get” to earth on Monday, giving sky gazers an opportunity to see it with naked eyes.
“On March 3, Mars was at opposition to sun because of which it would be brightest and closest it can get to earth on March 5,” general secretary of Planetary Society of India N Raghunandan said.
In positional astronomy, opposition defines that position of a celestial object when it is on the opposite side of the sun in the sky when viewed from earth as reference, director of NGO Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE) CB Devgun said.
The planet will be shining at -1.23 magnitude and can be seen between east and northeast direction.
It will be 100.78 million kilometre away from earth, he said.
“Mars will be brightest till the end of April 2012. It will be visible in the night sky until February 2013 with decreasing brightness as it gets far from us as days pass by,” Devgun added.
The next time Mars opposition will occur will be on April 8, 2014, whereas next closest approach will be witnessed on April 14, 2014.
The last time it was at opposition was on January 30, 2010. Mars is the fourth planet in the Solar System. Named after the Roman god of war, it is described as the ‘Red Planet’ as the iron oxide on its surface gives it a reddish appearance.