Mars Stays Up All Night

These photos depict the two hemispheres of Mars with a few of the most prominent features labeled. Olympus Mons is the largest and tallest volcano in the solar system with a height of 16 miles (25 km) and diameter of 374 miles (624 km). The hazy, white patches are clouds. North is up. Left: Damian Peach (Oct. 12). Right: Anthony Wesley (Oct. 4)

Today, Oct. 13 is a special day for Mars. It's at opposition to the Earth and very close to us. If you go out tonight and look off to the southeast after 9 o'clock you can't miss it. Mars is so brilliant that sometimes I find myself just staring at it, amazed. We won't see it as good until 2035. Heck, I'll be 82 then. I'm not going to waste a mesmerizing minute.

On Oct. 11, Mike Sangster of Duluth, Minn. used an 8-inch telescope to capture this photo of Mars and its two moons, Deimos and Phobos. Mars is so incredibly bright compared to the moons this was not an easy photo to take. Michael Sangster

At opposition, the Earth and Mars line up side by side on the same side of the sun. Because our planet's in the middle, between the sun and Mars, the two celestial objects appear on the opposite sides of the sky. Mars rises at sunset, culminates high in the southern sky at 1 a.m. local daylight time and sets at sunrise tomorrow morning. Call it a planetary all-nighter.

To celebrate I wanted to share a few current pictures of Mars and a sweet flyover video of the landing site of NASA's Perseverance rover, which is set to arrive next February. The video was created with real photos taken by the European Space Agency's Mars Express probe and shows Jezero Crater and an associated ancient river bed and delta where the rover will touch down. Be sure to view it in full-screen mode.

Like flying over planets? Yes? Well, here are few more flyovers made with spacecraft images taken at Jupiter, Saturn (just incredible, my fave!) and Pluto, respectively. Take flight — you know you need to!


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