You may be able to see Mars tonight, depending on your local weather and lighting conditions. The planet is close to Earth right now, and you’ll get a chance to spot it for the first time in about two years and two months.
You’ll also have a good chance to catch Jupiter and Mercury, which will appear low in the sky when the sun sets. You’ll have about an hour or so to search for them before they sink below the horizon.
It’s brighter than Jupiter
The red planet Mars will be surprisingly brighter than Jupiter tonight. It rises in the East a couple of hours after sunset and sits midway up in the southwestern sky after midnight.
You can see Mars through binoculars or a small telescope. It will appear a steady, cream-colored glow with four natural satellites (moons) – Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto – that change their positions from night to night.
The two brightest planets in our sky, Venus and Jupiter, will pair up this month for a spectacular conjunction on March 1. They will appear less than half-a-degree apart low in the west-southwest sky, about the width of your thumb stretched out at arm’s length.
It’s in the constellation Gemini
You’ll see the planet Mars tonight in the constellation Gemini, next to two bright “twin” stars, Castor and Pollux. It’s easy to spot with a pair of binoculars, especially from the northern hemisphere where the sky is brighter.
In mythology, these twins, also called Castor and Pollux, were placed into the sky by Zeus, king of the gods. They are often pictured together in ancient astronomy art as an archetypal duo.
The red planet is also known as the planet of war and conflict. You’ll be able to sense its strong influence in the airy chatty Gemini sign, where it will stay until March 26th thanks to a retrograde.
While it can be difficult to modulate the intensity of Mars’ energy, a practice of breathwork can help you manage its impact. Pranayama is a powerful moderator that helps build lung strength so you can better deal with the heat of the planet’s presence in Gemini.
Mars has always been a fascinating planet to observe, thanks in part to its reddish color. It can be seen with the naked eye in Earth’s night sky, and it often gets called the “Red Planet.”
The redness of the planet is due to the iron oxide dust that covers its surface. It’s the same compound that gives rust its red color.
While the planet has an almost endless supply of these particles, they don’t stay on Mars forever. They are carried off by wind and blown around the planet in huge dust storms.
These storms are very common on Mars, and they can be big enough to cover the entire planet, or at least parts of it. These storms can last for weeks or even months at a time.
It’s easy to see
Mars, our closest planet to the sun, is easy to spot in the evening sky right now. It is high in the sky, fading in brightness but still shining brighter than Jupiter.
The red planet is currently in Taurus the Bull and is easily visible above the eastern horizon. It is near two orange-hued stars, Aldebaran and Betelgeuse.
Although you’ll be able to see it with your naked eye, it’s much easier to spot if you have a pair of binoculars or a telescope. If you have a telescope, try looking for its northern polar cap.
On May 14 and 15, a waxing gibbous Moon will pass within 1deg04’ of Mars, which is currently about a month past opposition. Both will be 59% illuminated, and Mars will shine at a magnitude of 0.4. This event is called lunar occultation and is a rare celestial treat.