Mars Will Be Super Close To Earth Tonight & Here's Where To See It In Canada
Be sure to look up tonight, this is something you'll want to see. Mars in the sky tonight will be the closest it's been in two years and the brightest its been in October in more than 30 years.
Across the country, you can see the Red Planet glowing in the sky after sunset on October 6 and overnight but clouds could make it difficult to spot.
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Why is Mars going to be so bright?
Throughout the year, Mars has gradually been getting brighter and brighter in the night sky.
That's because our neighbouring planet has been getting closer and closer to Earth and that makes it more luminous to us.
It will actually be the brightest it has been in October in more than 30 years!
About every two years and two months, Earth and Mars align in what's called Opposition.
That means the planets line up with Mars on the exact opposite side of Earth that the Sun is and it's happening on October 13.
However, that doesn't mean the closest approach happens then.
On October 6, Mars will be 62.1 million kilometres away from Earth which is the closest the planet has come to us in two years.
The closest the two planets can ever get is 54.6 million kilometres which is about 142 times farther away than the moon.
Where in Canada can I see the Red Planet?
While this planet is visible right across Canada, cloud cover plays a major role in whether or not you'll actually be able to see it at its brightest.
In southern B.C. and some northeastern parts of the province, the cloud cover will be minimal on October 6 and into the overnight.
The same goes for central Alberta. So, if you're in or near Edmonton, your chances of seeing the Red Planet are high.
In Saskatchewan, the best place to spot it is around Saskatoon. There will be a break in the clouds in that area and along the Yellowhead Highway from east to west.
Southwestern Manitoba will have the clearest skies in the province with some cloud cover around Winnipeg overnight but it'll be minimal.
Parts of southern Ontario could see breaks in the clouds overnight with a pocket of clearing in Ottawa as well.
Most of Quebec won't have clear skies but there will be some moments around the Montreal area.
The night will start off clear in most of Atlantic Canada but the clouds roll in the later it gets so if you want to catch a glimpse, make sure you do it early in the night.
If your view is unobstructed, you'll be able to see Mars glowing red with the naked eye.
However, using a telescope or binoculars can help you get a closer look.
When has this happened before?
Mars was 55.7 million kilometres away from Earth in August 2003 which was the closest the planets had been in about 60,000 years.
Then in 2018, it was 57.6 million kilometres away.
Since both planets reach opposition about every two years and two months, that's when they make their nearest approaches to each other.
With the timing of that not being exact, it doesn't happen on the same day every year and can actually happen at any time.
Usually, the planets are the closest when it occurs in late August because that's when Earth is at its farthest from the Sun and its neighbour is at its closest.
The last time that Mars was this bright in the October night sky was back in 1988.
So, this is something you won't want to miss out on seeing!