New England

Mars Will Look Extra Bright Tuesday Night. Here's How to See It in New England

Mars will be brighter and better for viewing tonight than until any day until the year 2035.

Lilac Fire Night Photo 3
NASA via AP, File

The rain should clear out of most of New England shortly after sunset Tuesday evening, with clearing of the sky expected to follow around 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. for most communities, later in some of the mountains and in Maine. 

For those who find clearing, the night sky will put on a special show: Mars will be brighter and better for viewing tonight than until any day until the year 2035. 

Tuesday night finds Mars in “opposition” – a fancy term that refers to the positioning of Mars, the Earth and the Sun.  While Mars was technically closest to Earth a week ago, on October 6, the difference – in space measurement – is miniscule, and the lighting of Mars tonight will outshine that closest passage of a week ago. 

At 38.97 million miles from Earth (as opposed to 38.57 million miles a week ago), the positioning of the Earth tonight will be exactly between Mars and the Sun, in a straight line.  This, combined with Mars' close distance from our planet, will make for the most direct lighting of the red planet combined with the closest distance: a combination sure to delight those with any quality telescope for great detail of the planet, a pair of binoculars for at least a close-up view, or even with the naked eye for its red brilliance in the night sky. 

Mars will become visible in the southeast sky shortly after dusk, rising well above the horizon by the middle of the night.  No worries if you’re in a spot slow to clear, or if tonight’s viewing doesn’t work for you – it may be fractionally less impressive Wednesday night, but it’ll still be dazzling and sky should be clear for most of us after a day of splendid sunshine.

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