Our red neighbor will be out this October 6 so we can get a better view. Earth and Mars will be 62 million kilometers apart, a “short” distance considering the orbits of each planet.
The good news is that the planet can be seen without the need for additional tools, we will only depend on the light pollution of the place where we are, and of course, the meteorological conditions. This could be the case this year because the “short-distance” coincidence between Earth and Mars occurs at the same time that both planets are relatively close to the Sun so that each one projects more light. This is particularly beneficial for observing the red planet with the naked eye.
Actually, the “short-distance” of 62 million kilometers between planets is reached every two years, but as they well quote in Engadget, Earthsky explains that between now and 2035 each short-distance event will be further and further from the Sun so that Mars will project less light. Thus, there will not be an event 62 million kilometers away in which Mars looks as bright as in 2020, until 2035. Mars had a record approach to Earth in 2003. It was 54.6 million kilometers, a distance between the two planets that will occur again until 2287
How to see Mars
The bad news is that the closest point between the stars will occur during the day in Mexico. The good news is that it will be very early so that Mars can be seen hours before when the sun has not yet risen. The point of closest approach will be at 9 in the morning, Central Mexico time, on October 6.
As always when it comes to turning to the sky, it would not be bad to use applications to quickly locate stars. In my particular case ‘ Star Walk 2 ‘ has worked very well for me, which allows using augmented reality to locate moving planets and stars in real-time, while pointing the smartphone camera at the sky.
In any case, for those who want to search for Mars on their own, from the center of Mexico starting at 9:00 p.m. on October 5, it will begin to appear in the East. As the night and dawn of October 6 progress, it will become more luminous as it approaches Earth. Throughout the night it will move from east to west, so that in the last hours, before the sun rises, it will be just above the horizon, heading west.
As a recommendation, Mars should be seen before the Sun illuminates with its first rays since the Sun appears precisely from the West and its illumination will quickly obscure the view of the red planet. It is worth checking the sunrise time wherever you are, but in the particular case of central Mexico, the sunrise on October 6 is expected to occur at 7:31 AM.
For those who want to try to see the red planet still close to Earth, the night of October 6 will have the same path, beginning to be visible on the horizon to the East, between eight and nine at night.
The event of rapprochement between the two planets is historically used to launch missions to the neighboring planet. In 2001 it was Mars Odyssey, in 2003 Mars Exploration Rovers, in 2005 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and so on. In this 2020, NASA has the Mars 2020 mission underway, with a rover currently en route to Mars, with a planned landing for February 18, 2021.
The closest event between Earth and Mars in 2035 will be in the month of September.