The Red Planet. Fourth planet from the Sun. Also named after Ares, the Greek god of war.
It’s everyone’s favorite planet (after Earth of course) thanks to the years of exploration, stunning discoveries, and enthralling photos. You don’t have to limit your viewing to the computer screen, though. Mars lies just outside your door, possibly in your field of view. Here’s how to spot Mars in your night sky.
1. Pick the right time of year.
Like the other planets, you won’t always be able to see Mars. At certain times of the year, Mars is too close to the Sun to be visible. To find out when you can see Mars, do a quick search and see where the planet currently is on its orbit.
2. Look for a bright, reddish glow.
That’s right, the red planet really does look red, even from our distance! You can typically distinguish planets from stars by brightness. Planets will be larger and shine more brilliantly than most stars, and Mars will have a red tinge that helps you tell it apart from other planets.
3. If all else fails, turn to a stargazing app.
If you’re looking around at the right time of the year and can’t see Mars, try a stargazing app. Most incorporate augmented reality and will present you with an accurate picture of the night sky in your area. You can either search for Mars within an app, or point your phone at various portions of the sky and see if the planet jumps out at you. Although it’s just a ball of light in the sky, it’s still a whole other world, which is an amazing sight to see!