What is Opposition Effect that will make Mars look bigger and brighter?

Published: October 14, 2020

In October 2020, Mars is to look bigger and brighter due to ‘Opposition Effect’.

What is Opposition Effect?

It is the circumstance where two celestial bodies will appear in opposite directions in the sky. For instance, a full moon is said to be in opposition to the sun. The earth is then approximately between them.

The opposition effect positions of the planets are the best time to observe the planets, especially the superior planets that are far away from the earth. A superior planet is said to be in opposition with the earth when the earth passes between the planet and the sun.

The opposition position of the planet is the best time to study the planet as it is the nearest point to the Earth. The planets such as mercury and venus that are smaller than the earth can never be in opposition to the sun.

Superior planets are those planets in the solar system that are further from the sun than the earth. These are Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. Mercury and Venus are the inferior planets.

Opposition Effect on Mars

The opposition position of Mars occurs when the sun and mars are on opposite sides of the earth. The earth passes between the sun and the mars for every 26 months. These three celestial bodies are in a straight line during this occurrence.

According to NASA, Mars made its closest approach to the earth in 2003. It wont be this close till 2287. This is because the orbits of Mars and Earth are not perfectly circular and their shapes change because of gravitational pulling by other planets.

Inferences

Due to Opposition Effect, in the month of October, Mars will become the third brightest object in the night sky outshining Jupiter.

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