When Mars is brighter than Jupiter: Moscow Planetarium to show a unique astronomical phenomenon

When Mars is brighter than Jupiter: Moscow Planetarium to show a unique astronomical phenomenon
Photo: NASA
Visitors will be able to observe two rare astronomical events – a full lunar eclipse and a Mars opposition. The last time these two events occurred on the same day was almost 200 years ago.

On 27 July, Moscow Planetarium visitors will be able to observe rare astronomical events. On this day, Mars will be its closest to Earth in 15 years. With the help of special telescopes, viewers will be able to observe the Martian landscape, which are usually barely visible.

“July 27 will be the best time to observe the Red Planet,” the Moscow Planetarium’s press service states.

“Mars will be a mere 55.7 million kilometres away from Earth. During so-called opposition, Mars becomes brighter and more visible in the night sky. The next closest approach of this planet to Earth will take place no earlier than 15 September, 2035.”

Experts also stated that this year’s Mars opposition will take place on the same day as a full lunar eclipse. The last time Earth witnessed these two events on the same day was almost 200 years ago, in 1830.

“July 27 will see the longest full lunar eclipse in 100 years,” the planetarium representative added. It will last for one hour and 44 minutes, which is 15 minutes longer than in previous years.”

The observations will start at 9.30 pm and will last until 1 am. The planetarium will install no fewer than 10 amateur telescopes at its Sky Park. There will be astronomers standing next to every telescope who can help visitors observe Martian craters and the lunar eclipse. Planetarium experts will also talk about the planets and stars in the Solar system, and explain the meaning of the two astronomical events from the standpoint of scientific discoveries. Tickets for the event will be available at the planetarium’s ticket offices on the same day.

The grand opposition of Mars is an astronomical event when the Sun, Earth and Mars line up almost perfectly in the course of their orbital movement, while the distance between the Earth and Mars is at its minimum. During an opposition event like this, Mars becomes brighter than Jupiter, becoming the fourth most visible body in the solar system after the Sun, the Moon and Venus.

Eclipses can only happen during a full moon on the night when the Sun, the Earth and the Moon line up. They can be full or partial, depending on whether the Moon is overshadowed completely or only partially. When the Earth casts a shadow onto its natural satellite, the Moon appears reddish – this is why it is often called a blood moon.

Now Muscovites can study astronomy with the help of a smartphone. The Moscow Planetarium is now developing a new mobile app that will offer online tours of its exhibits. The services and functions to become available in the new app will be picked by the users themselves within the framework of the Active Citizen project.