Mars Is Brighter Tonight Than It Will Be Any Other Night This Year

Don't miss your chance to admire the red planet.

Mars at opposition October
An image of Mars taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. | NASA, ESA, and STScI - Edited
An image of Mars taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. | NASA, ESA, and STScI - Edited

We've mentioned it before, but October is a great month to stare up at beautiful Mars

On the night of Tuesday, October 13, the planet reaches another milestone for the year. That night, the red planet hits opposition, a time when the Earth is positioned right in between the sun and Mars. Because of this, Mars is brilliantly illuminated and will be at its brightest position of the year, according to Astronomy

It was just a week ago that Mars made its closest pass to Earth, coming within 38.6 million miles, which is relatively close for the two planets. That's the closest Mars will be until September 2035. With the two planets' orbits bringing them past each other about once every two years, Mars will still be very near Earth at the time of opposition. 

Mars Opposition 2020
YouTube / NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Whether you're looking with the naked eye or busting out a telescope, this is a great time to observe Mars. The night of opposition, it'll be hanging out in the sky from sunset until sunrise. You'll find it sitting in the east when the sun goes down and moving westward throughout the night. 

The planet will be easy to spot because it shines with a ruddy red color, and it will be one of the brightest objects in the sky. In October, Mars rises through the ranks to become the fourth-brightest object in Earth's sky behind the sun, moon, and Venus, which is only visible in the morning right now. 

It's bright enough that you don't need to speed out to the countryside to see it like you would with a meteor shower. You can just step outside and look up to find the planet. Get on it. 

Ready to go stargazing?

Here are all the best stargazing events that you can get out and see this month or you could stay in a stream the northern lights from home. If you're just getting started, check out our guide to astronomy for beginners or easy stargazing road trips from big US cities

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Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow him @dlukenelson.