Image: Moon, Mars, station

July 19, 2018, European Space Agency
Credit: European Space Agency

This image was taken by ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst from the International Space Station on 30 June 2018 when the Moon and Mars were at its closest so far during his six-month Horizons mission.

For illustration purposes, Mars has been highlighted and enlarged twenty times: the 'Red Planet' has a radius of 3389 km but at the time was roughly 67 million km from Earth while the Moon has a radius of 1737 km and was at a distance of around 411 000 km.

The distance from Mars to Earth varies as both planets orbit the Sun and it is at its closest in these weeks, appearing brighter than Jupiter in the night sky. The night of 27 July offers another periodic spectacle during the lunar eclipse when Earth casts its shadow over the Moon causing our satellite to appear red.

With careful planning and some luck it should be possible to see the Red Planet and the reddish with the International Space Station always flying past from West to East. In mainland Europe the Moon will rise eclipsed and the will continue past 23:00 CEST.

The International Space Station, Moon and Mars are the destinations for ESA's human and robotic exploration strategy, using low-Earth orbit for research and demonstrating technology, developing the Orion service module and elements for a gateway around the Moon and sending robotic probes to Mars, such as the ExoMars rover that will drill down 2 metres into the surface in search for life.

We would love to see any pictures taken showing the Moon, Mars and the International Space Station in one shot – even better if you manage to get all three during the lunar eclipse. Send your images to ESA's social media channels, as a Facebook message to ESA, with hashtag #youresa on Instagram, or as a reply to the pinned tweet on @esaspaceflight. Provide as much background to how you took the picture as you can. The best three entries will be eligible to win exclusive prizes.  

Alexander took this picture with a 210 mm lens when not working on the dozens of European experiments run on the International Space Station. Flying at 28 800 km/h it only takes 90 minutes to circle Earth, meaning the astronauts on board fly through the night every 45 minutes: coupled with always-clear skies, there are more opportunities for an astronaut to take the perfect picture. 

Explore further: Image: A closer view of the moon

Related Stories

Image: A closer view of the moon

July 10, 2018

Posted to Twitter by @Astro_Alex, European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst, this image shows our planet's Moon as seen from the International Space Station. As he said in the tweet, "By orbiting the Earth almost 16 ...

Image: Lunar agenda

July 4, 2018

This image of the Moon was taken by ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst from the International Space Station during his Horizons mission. But he's not the only one to be eyeing the Moon these days.

Moon village the first stop to Mars: ESA

September 28, 2017

Setting up a permanent village on the moon is the first step towards exploring Mars, the European Space Agency said Thursday as plans to reach and colonise the Red Planet gathered pace.

Recommended for you

Archaeologists discover Incan tomb in Peru

February 16, 2019

Peruvian archaeologists discovered an Incan tomb in the north of the country where an elite member of the pre-Columbian empire was buried, one of the investigators announced Friday.

Where is the universe hiding its missing mass?

February 15, 2019

Astronomers have spent decades looking for something that sounds like it would be hard to miss: about a third of the "normal" matter in the Universe. New results from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory may have helped them ...

What rising seas mean for local economies

February 15, 2019

Impacts from climate change are not always easy to see. But for many local businesses in coastal communities across the United States, the evidence is right outside their doors—or in their parking lots.

The friendly extortioner takes it all

February 15, 2019

Cooperating with other people makes many things easier. However, competition is also a characteristic aspect of our society. In their struggle for contracts and positions, people have to be more successful than their competitors ...

0 comments

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.