Mars opposition 2020: important key points to know-

mars opposition 2020

Mars, the 4th closest planet to the sun in our solar system is the 2nd closest is that planet from our earth just after the venus (The closest planet to the Earth may be Mercury . Because some theories consider Mercury as the closest planet to Earth). Can Mars beat Venus in terms of closeness in this Mars opposition 2020? Let’s look. Here the closest term refers to the distance. but, if we take the “closest” term as similarity then, Mars is the closest(the most similar) planet to the earth. The diurnal motions of the two planets are almost the same. But, being the closest planet to the sun, earth’s annual motion is less than it of Mars. And this motion speed of the earth is almost two times faster than it of the mars.
so, sometimes the two planets are on opposite sides of the sun on their own orbits, and sometimes the mars become the closest(distance) planet to the earth i.e. when they are on the similar side of the sun.

mars opposition 2020

however, today is discussing the event when the earth is in the middle. This is called the opposition event.

Let’s know the key points, you should know about this event-

what is opposition?

All planets in our solar system are moving on their respective orbits and at their own speed. so, during the motion sometimes two planets may be on one side of the sun, as well as may be on the opposite sides. We are talking about the time when the 1st event takes place. Yes, opposition refers to this position.

However, for the 2nd event it’s called “Conjunction”., when the sun is in the middle of the earth & the Mars.

Mars opposition & conjunction. Image credit: NASA

how can we see Mars opposition 2020? what can we see when the opposition takes place?

From the earth from our perspective on our spinning world normally we can see mars rises from the est when the sun sets in the west & after staying all the night in the sky (at the midnight it was just above our head), it sets in the west when the sun rises in the east, simply vice-versa. If you want to know why, there should be two why.

one question should be-

Why are they on the opposite sides- East & West?

The answer is due to the fact that in opposition event the earth remains in the middle of the sun & mars (That’s why it’s called opposition).

And 2nd question should be-

Why does one of them(sun & Mars) disappear when another one appears?

this reason is also very simple. it’s not only for mars but also applies to all planets and stars in the sky visible from our earth. the sun is the closest star and the brightest thing in the sky visible from the earth. so, when it remains in the sky, naturally others remain invisible, but that does not mean then they are not there in the sky.

mars opposition
Mars Opposition 2016. Image credit

Is this opposition maintain proper periodicity? When can opposion occur?

No, Mars opposition occurs about every 26 months. But there is a noticeable word ‘about’. that’s because every opposition is not the same, I mean during every opposition the distances between the sun and earth; Mars and the earth; and finally the sun and the mars are not constant.

But, why? There are some complications-

Though the opposition occurs about every 2 years 2 months, perihelic opposition (the opposition when the mars are at the point in its orbit when it is closest to the sun and Mars is particularly close to Earth). If this opposition were perihelic, then every opposition was perihelic or every Mars’s perihelion position brings an opposition event. However, in 2020 Mars opposition occurs on 13th October. But, the question is what are the reasons for these complications. There are several reasons. Nature and its rules are not so simple. Some are able to be discovered, some are yet to be discovered, some are able to be discovered, some are yet to be explored.

Let’s know some factors-

aphelion vs perihelion
  1. the orbits of all planets are not circular, rather they are elliptical, so perihelion (The point in the orbit where an object is nearest to the sun is called the perihelion.) and aphelion(The aphelion is the point in the orbit of an object where it is farthest from the Sun. ) are two considerable factors, we should keep in our brain. If in any opposition the earth is the perihelion, the mars may be at aphelion, next time the mars may be at perihelion and the earth is in aphelion. These factors cause variation.
  2. mars orbit is more elliptical ( 20% varies due to high eccentricity) So, naturally the difference between mars perihelion and aphelion is greater and more elongated.
  3. Other planets’ gravitation tugging changes the shape and type of the orbits of other planets. Especially, the planets like Jupiter have great influences on this complication. Due to this factor, the shape of mars and the earth’s orbits changes constantly.
  4. all planets’ orbits are not on the same plane. This another great reason for variable distance during opposition.
  5. Inflation theory is another great reason. According to the inflation theory, our entire universe including our solar system is increasing.

Featured Image credit: NASA

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