On the night of last Tuesday (13), due to a planetary alignment, Mars may be seen from Earth. This happened because the planet reflected more sunlight in our direction, because it was exactly opposite the star.
You don’t need a spacecraft to see Mars! You can’t miss it in the eastern sky just after sunset or toward the south by midnight local time. Today Mars is at opposition, meaning it’s positioned directly opposite the Sun, which makes it especially bright. https://t.co/gAbOkp9Fs3 pic.twitter.com/N59zEyXYEh
– NASA Mars (@NASAMars) October 13, 2020
This event, coupled with the fact that Mars was particularly “close” to Earth, meant that amateur astronomers with telescopes could take clear photos of its surface directly from their backyards.
The position where Mars was, in the exact opposite of the Sun, happens relatively frequently, every 26 months. However, it is much less common that this happens exactly when the planet approaches Earth – a phenomenon that happens, on average, every 16 years. This made the event a rare occasion.
Now, according to the website WaPo, this same approach – quite accentuated – should only occur again in 2035. Until then, the planet may come close to our planet on other occasions, but it is not to the point that the phenomenon repeats itself so dazzlingly.
On social networks, several users shared catches made in the period. The photos are very interesting and clearly show the surface of the Red Planet.
#Mars at opposition from my backyard in #Johannesburg 2020.10.13 UTC 20:45. Captured with a #ZWOASI224mc 3 x barlow and Celestron 8″. Sharpcap – Autostakkert – Registax – 5 x 3000 frame stacked pics derotated with WinJupos #Astrophotography pic.twitter.com/UV5FRijj39
— Grant Petersen (@GP_O11) October 13, 2020
mars do be shining tho pic.twitter.com/5Z5cGQIAek
— mary (@BLOODYM4RIY) October 15, 2020
In addition, a Reddit user shared an accelerated video of the phenomenon, which was recorded over three hours. It is possible to see a little of the planet’s rotation.
My 3 hour timelapse of Mars at Opposition from r/Astronomy
Mars Titmouse Terra Sol photo Science & Space