SKY WATCHERS will get a rare treat Tuesday, April 8, 2014 when Mars, Earth and the sun will be arranged in a nearly straight line.
Every two years, Mars reaches a point in its orbit called “opposition,” when the planet lies directly opposite the sun in Earth’s sky, according to Astronomy magazine.
This means Mars rises near sunset and remains visible all night long as it moves nearly overhead across the night sky. It will be a bright burnt orange color, NASA’s Mars Exploration Program reports, and almost 10 times brighter than the brightest stars in the sky.
“From our perspective on our spinning world, Mars rises in the east just as the sun sets in the west,” NASA reports. “Then, after staying up in the sky the entire night, Mars sets in the west just as the sun rises in the east.”
With no big storms forecast Tuesday night, according to the National Weather Service, Mars should be visible in most areas.
At their closest point next week, Mars and Earth will “only” be about 57 million miles apart. Another treat awaits April 14, when the full moon also will appear near Mars.
Mars won’t appear this big and bright again until its next “opposition” on May 22, 2016