On Friday, January 29, Mars was in opposition and appeared very bright in the eastern sky, near the Moon. The photograph above was shot and color-calibrated by photographer Alan Friedman from his location in Buffalo, New York. The bright north polar ice cap is clearly visible, as are some darker surface features and wispy clouds.
Opposition occurs when planets line up with the Sun…in this case, Mars was on one side of Earth and the Sun on the other in a linear arrangement. While Mars is relatively close to Earth during opposition, it is still around 35 million miles away (that’s 140 times the distance from the us to the Moon.) No worries about the red planet approaching Earth and becoming as large as the full moon as some recirculating emails like to report. 🙂
This image was chosen as the Astronomy Picture of the Day for January 29. Visit Alan Friedman’s site for this and more photos of night sky subjects here.
Image © Alan Friedman. All rights reserved.