Mars is closer to Earth this week than it will be for 15 years

Starwatch chart October 5 2020 Mars on show

Mars will be closer to Earth this week than at any other time for the next 15 years. The fourth planet from the sun, it is currently sitting just north of the celestial equator. That means it is almost perfectly placed to be seen from both hemispheres, and it is shining with brilliant intensity in the evening sky. The chart shows its position on 5 October, looking east-south-east from London at 22:00 BST.

The red planet will really be showing why it has earned its sobriquet this month. It is positioned in a region of the sky that contains no bright stars, so it will be unmistakeable. The moon is in its waning gibbous phase off to the east and will be the only thing in the night sky that outshines it.

Over in the south-west, quite close to the horizon because they are setting, Jupiter and Saturn will be the next brightest things in the sky. From the southern hemisphere, Mars will be in east-north-east.


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