News / Science & Technology

Sun, Earth and Mars Will Align Tuesday Night

The difference in the orbits of Earth and Mars are shown in this NASA illustration.
The difference in the orbits of Earth and Mars are shown in this NASA illustration.

Related Articles

Looking Forward: 3-D Printing and Beyond

What new technology could lie in store for the next century?

Scientists Warn NASA on Ethics of Space Travel

Panel of scientists from National Academy of Sciences says space agency should consider ethics while designing standards for future long missions

Water Found on a Saturn Moon

California Institute of Technology researchers say Saturn's moon Enceladus may be a good place to search for non-Earth life forms
VOA News
Skywatchers, especially those with an interest in Mars, will have something to look forward to Tuesday evening as Mars, the Sun and Earth all come into alignment.

The “opposition of Mars,” as the event is called, happens only once every 26 months, according to the U.S. space agency, NASA.

NASA says it’s easy to imagine opposition if you think about Earth and Mars as runners on a track.

“Earth is on the inside, Mars is on the outside,” said the agency. “Every 26 months, speedy Earth catches up to slower Mars and laps it. Opposition occurs just as Earth takes the lead.”

Don’t worry if you can’t see the sky tonight. The event will continue for another week until Earth and Mars near one another, coming within 92 million miles of each other.

NASA says that over the past month, the distance between the two planets has been shortened by 300 kilometers every minute. In 2003, Mars and Earth came as close as they’ve been in 50,000 years, NASA said.

The reason the alignment and closest approach don’t fall on the same date is because the orbits of both Earth and Mars are not circular, but rather elliptical.

NASA says opposition will be easy to see--even in cities-- because Mars and the Sun will be on opposite sides of the sky.

During the event, Mars will rise in the east at around sunset and will be almost directly overhead by midnight. The planet’s burnt-orange color will be easily spotted as it will be 10 times brighter than a first magnitude star, NASA said.

NASA added that on April 14, there will also be a total lunar eclipse causing the full Moon to “turn as red as the Red Planet itself.”

Here's a video about the event:

You May Like

Guatemala Mudslide Death Toll Rises to 86

Death toll is expected to continue to rise as emergency crews dig through tons of earth for an estimated 350 people still missing More

Debris Found in Search for Missing Ship

Objects located Sunday have not yet been confirmed to be from the 240 meter container ship, El Faro, which disappeared in the eye of Hurricane Joaquin, according to US Coast Guard More

Survivor: Gunman Spared 'Lucky One' to Give Police Message

Law enforcement official says a manifesto of several pages was recovered; contents not revealed More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Em from: Australia
April 09, 2014 1:26 AM
Hey. Just wondering how visible Mars will be from the Southern Hemisphere? Will it be the same as Northern Hemisphere?

by: allisa from: jacksonville
April 08, 2014 10:07 PM
more info

April 08, 2014 9:56 PM
Good informative article.

by: Mark from: Virginia
April 08, 2014 2:50 PM
You know I will be out there to see it, both Mars and the Lunar Eclipse. Astronomy has become quite the hobby for me in recent months. I have already seen Jupiter and four of its moons through my small telescope and now I know where to find Mars. Only money and opportunity prevents me from getting anything better than the 60MM telescope I have now (which in itself was a garage sale bargain, so I can't complain... it was free)

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs