Skygazers prepare to catch Mars at its biggest and brightest

The Red Planet will be in ‘opposition’ at around 1am on Wednesday, providing the perfect chance to see it with your own eyes
The Red Planet will be in ‘opposition’ at around 1am on Wednesday, providing the perfect chance to see it with your own eyes - (Copyright PA Media)
15:17pm, Mon 12 Oct 2020
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Skygazers may notice that Mars is looking bigger and brighter at the moment due to a process which only happens every two years or so.

The event, known as ‘opposition’ among astronomers, is when the Red Planet and the sun are on directly opposite sides of Earth.

Although people should see the bright orange planet already, it will be at its best around 1am on Wednesday, according to the Royal Observatory Greenwich.

“It’s a really good chance to view it – the last time this happened was 2018 but it was quite difficult for a lot of people to see because it was quite down in the horizon,” Hannah Banyard, an astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, told PA news.

The next time you will be able to see Mars as big and bright will be 2033

“For about a month or so now, it’s been quiet easy to see, as it’s getting close to opposition it’s rising earlier, so it rises from sunset and then you can see it and it gets up quite high into the sky, so it’s really easy to spot.”

Opposition happens around every 26 months and is not set to occur again until 2023.

Despite cloudy weather forecast for parts of the UK, Mars should be visible among any breaks and even through lighter cloud, Ms Banyard added.

“You can see it as a bright orangey-red looking star just with your eyes, but I recommend using at least a four-inch telescope with 24-millimetre magnification and then you’ll be able to make out some features on the surface,” she said.

“The next time you will be able to see Mars as big and bright will be 2033.”

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