It’s Been 15 Years Since Mars Has Come This Close To Central New York
One of the great sky events of 2018 happens this Friday night, and when you add in the full Moon, we'll see something spectacular right here in CNY.
The event we're talking about is the Mars opposition of 2018. It's when Mars comes unusually close to Earth, and it will look huge, very bright and be a vivid red/orange!
When Mars is aligned with the Sun and Earth is in the middle it's called the Mars opposition. The alignment causes Mars to be very close to Earth, and to rise in the east just as the sun sets, and then remain out all night long.
Friday night is also the full Moon of July and is called the Buck Moon to signify the new antlers that emerge on deer buck's foreheads around this time. This Full Moon is also known as Thunder Moon, Wort Moon, and Hay Moon from Old English/Anglo-Saxon. When the full Moon and Mars hoover together during the summertime opposition it will be extremely easy to see Mars. The Last time Mars has been this close to Earth was in 2006, and it won't happen again until 2035, 17 years from now.
The Farmers Almanac says:
Why is it so close? Well, Earth meets up with Mars every 26 months, but when that happens, the gap between our orbits can be as wide as 70 million miles or as narrow as half that. So happens, July is when Earth is always farthest from the Sun and thus potentially closer to Mars. And August is when Mars is closest to the Sun and hence unusually near to us. Thus a summertime opposition offers the best close-up meeting between our two worlds.
HOW TO VIEW MARS
The Farmers Almanac tells us that on Friday, July 27th, Mars will line up with the Sun and rise just as the Sun sets on the horizon. Look for the Red Planet rising in the southeastern skies, moving up towards the Moon, then moving across the sky during the night.
After Venus sets in the West at around 10 p.m., Mars is actually the brightest star in the entire sky for the rest of the night. Plus its distinct orange-yellow color is something you can't miss.