Mars is in Opposition currently, which means it is travelling as close to the Earth as it gets, during this week it will be only 62.1 million kilometres (38.6 million miles) away from Earth. That is close enough we’ll be able to see details on the red planet with a good telescope. Not quite as close as what happened in 2003, that year Mars made its closest approach to Earth in nearly 60,000 years! It won’t be that close again until the year 2287.
Still, Opposition happens every two years when Mars is on the direct opposite side of the Earth from the Sun. It provides spectacular views in the night sky, and with the proper equipment even the southern polar cap, or the volcanoes can be seen.
Mars is visible all night, and will be at it’s highest point at midnight, you will want to look to the Southern Sky anytime from evening until daybreak to see it. Also, as a note: if you look a little north of Mars in the evening, near the Andromeda constellation, you may be able to see the Andromeda galaxy this month too!
Missed seeing Mars Close Approach in 2020? Not to worry! The next Mars Close Approach is Dec. 8, 2022, when the Red Planet will be only 62.07 million kilometers (still about 38.6 million miles) from Earth. Taking advantage of the short trip-time will be NASA’s next mission to Mars, known as Mars Sample Return, a campaign to bring samples of Mars rocks and soil back to Earth, where they can be studied in detail.
If you want to know more about seeing Mars in the night sky, NASA has a webpage to help with that.