Image: Kaleidoscopic view of Mars

July 22, 2014 by Nancy Atkinson, Universe Today
months of Mars observations in a single image, from October 2013 ending end of June 2014. Credit: Leo Aerts.

Astrophotographer Leo Aerts from Belgium took advantage of the recent opposition of Mars and captured the Red Planet both "coming and going" in this montage of images taken from October 2013 to June of 2014. Mars reached opposition in April of this year, meaning it was closest to Earth, allowing for the brightest and best viewing.

Leo even shows the changing locations in the sky where Mars appeared across the months, allowing also for the apparent retrograde motion through Virgo during the months on either side of opposition.

Opposition of Mars (or any planet) means that planet and the Sun are on directly opposite sides of Earth. From our perspective on a spinning Earth, the other planet rises in the east just as the Sun sets in the west. Then, after staying up in the sky the entire night, the other planet sets in the west just as the Sun rises in the east.

Mars' opposition happens about every 26 months. Opposition time is also a good time to send spacecraft to Mars, since our two are the closest, meaning less fuel (and time) will be needed to reach the planet. Hence, we've got two missions on their way to the Red Planet: MAVEN will arrive at Mars on September 21, 2014, and India's Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) will get there on September 24.

This year's opposition was pretty close, but we're currently on an improving trend: the next opposition in 2016 Mars will look even bigger and brighter and during the 2018 , Mars will nearly be as close as it was in 2003.

Explore further: Moon, Mars bright lights in the big sky

Related Stories

Moon, Mars bright lights in the big sky

December 24, 2007

The moon and Mars -- not the stars -- emitted enough wattage Monday to providing night travelers by sleigh and by foot a lighted way to their destinations.

Curiosity's first photo of home planet Earth from Mars

February 7, 2014

18 months into her mission to discover a habitable zone on the Red Planet, NASA's Curiosity rover has at last looked back to the inhabited zone of all humanity and snapped her 1st image of all 7 Billion Earthlings living ...

The opposition of Mars

March 28, 2014

By the time you finish reading this story, you'll be about 1,000 km closer to the planet Mars.

India's mission to Mars crosses half-way mark

April 9, 2014

India's first mission to Mars successfully crossed the half-way mark on Wednesday, four months after leaving on an voyage to the Red Planet scheduled to take 11 months, the space agency said.

NASA radio delivered for Europe's 2016 Mars orbiter

July 8, 2014

( —The first of two NASA Electra radios that will fly aboard the European Space Agency's next mission to Mars has been delivered for installation onto the ESA ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO).

Recommended for you

Cassini mission provides insight into Saturn

December 1, 2015

Scientists have found the first direct evidence for explosive releases of energy in Saturn's magnetic bubble using data from the Cassini spacecraft, a joint mission between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian ...

Timing a sextuple quasar

December 1, 2015

Quasars are galaxies with massive black holes at their cores around which vast amounts of energy are being radiated. Indeed, so much light is emitted that the nucleus of a quasar is much brighter than the rest of the entire ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.