Watching the Skies: Mars comes into opposition

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Mars has been extra bright this month, and the peak of brightness will arrive this week as it comes into opposition.

The opposition of a planet occurs when the Earth moves between the planet and the sun. Around the time of opposition, a planet is brightest from our vantage point on Earth.

Mars will be opposite the sun in the sky, meaning it will be in the east at sunset and the west at sunrise. Around midnight, look for the red planet high in the south.

The official time of opposition is around 7 p.m. Tuesday. Mars will be brighter this year at opposition than it will be again until 2035.

Mars is currently the fourth brightest celestial object in the night sky, overtaking Jupiter in brightness. Only the sun, the moon, and Venus shine brighter.

Venus is still holding onto the title of the third brightest celestial object. To spot Venus, look to the east before dawn. The moon will be close to Venus in the east early on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Even though Jupiter is not as bright as Mars, it’s still a beautiful sight at this time of year. Look to the south-southwest at dusk to see Jupiter. Saturn is to the left of Jupiter.