Mars and Space Station Provide Viewing Spectacle

By Marc Boucher
June 20, 2001
Filed under
Mars Opposition
Mars and Earth Opposition

In the southern Ontario area tonight at 9:53 the international space station will rise from the western sky and fly brightly to a southern setting. It will be visible 18 degrees above the horizon and for 5 minutes. What makes this pass special is that as the space station sets in the south viewers should be just seeing Mars rise in the southeast.

Mars is currently in opposition with the Earth, meaning the Earth is directly between the Sun and Mars. Because the planets orbits are elliptical, not circular, some oppositions are closer than others. This is one of those times. Mars will come within 67 million kilometers of Earth tonight, its closest approach since 1998. As a comparison last summer Mars was 390 kilometers from Earth. The Mars and Earth opposition occurs about every two years.

Mars will be the brightest object in the southeast sky and viewers can get a great view between 10 p.m. and midnight. For those with telescopes this opportunity provides a chance to snap some great pictures and pick out some of the more prominent features.

Mars Map

Map showing some of the more prominent features on Mars.

There will be other opportunities this summer to see Mars and the space station. Mars will be rising in the southeast all summer after sunset. Viewers need only check to see when the space station will be visible in their area from the link below.

Related Links:

  • Space Station Naked-Eye Visibility Data From Selected Cities

  • The Whole Mars Catalog

  • A Grand Return of Mars (Sky and Telescope)

  • Mars on Earth (SpaceRef Focus On)
  • SpaceRef co-founder, entrepreneur, writer, podcaster, nature lover and deep thinker.