Mars 2020

During this apparition, Mars will come into Opposition on October 13, 2020 in the constellation Pisces, when it will shine at an apparent visual brightness of -2.62 magnitudes. Seven days earlier, on October 6, 2020, it will have had its closest approach to Earth during this apparition, with a distance of only 38.78 million miles (62.06 million km = 0.41492 AU). This is a comparatively close encounter, as Mars is not too far from its perihelion, which it had passed on August 2, 2020; therefore, this apparition is also called a perihelic apparition. Opposition occurs only about one month after the Northern Winter, Southern Summer Equinox on Mars, which will have been on September 3, 2020. Therefore, the Southern Polar Region (SPR) will be prominently visible this time. At a declination of +5deg at opposition, Mars will be well visible from most places both on Northern and Southern hemisphere on Earth.

As usual, this opposition will provide another good opportunity to send spacecraft to Mars, favorable as it is a perihelic one: The Uniter Arab Emirates launched their first Mars mission, Hope or Emirates Mars Mission, on July 19, followed by China's CNSA who launched Tianwen 1, consisting of an orbiter, a lander and a rover, and finally Nasa who on July 30, launched their Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover together with first Mars helicopter Ingenuity.

Chronology of the 2020 Mars Apparition

Sep 2, 2019
Mars in conjunction with the Sun from Earth, in Leo. Earth in superior conjunction with the Sun as seen from Mars. Distance 400 million km (2.6746 AU), apparent diameter 3.501", brightness +1.74 mag. This conjunction, which also ends the 2018 apparition of Mars, starts the 2018 apparition of Mars.
Sep 24, 2019
Mars leaves constellation Leo and enters Virgo.
Oct 8, 2019
Northern Summer, Southern Winter Solstice on Mars.
Oct 15, 2019
Mars at its least brightness (+1.79 mag)
Dec 1, 2019
Mars leaves constellation Virgo and enters Libra.
Jan 1, 2020
Mars is seen in the morning sky in constellation Libra at a distance of about 326.7 million km (2.18 AU) from Earth, at about +1.6 mag apparent brightness and 4.3" apparent diameter.
Jan 7, 2020
Mars leaves constellation Libra and enters Scorpius.
Jan 13, 2020
Apparent brightness of Mars exceeds +1.5 mag.
Jan 15, 2020
Mars leaves constellation Scorpius and enters Ophiuchus.
Jan 25, 2020
Mars comes closer than 2.0 AU.
Feb 1, 2020
Mars passes the descending node of its orbit, moving to the south or Earth's orbital plane, the ecliptic, and getting southern ecliptic latitudes.
Feb 10, 2020
Apparent diameter of Mars exceeds 5".
Feb 11, 2020
Mars leaves constellation Ophiuchus and enters Sagittarius.
Mar 12, 2020
Apparent brightness of Mars exceeds +1.0 mag.
Mar 30, 2020
Mars leaves constellation Sagittarius and enters Capricornus.
Apr 9, 2020
Northern Autumn, Southern Spring Equinox on Mars.
Apr 24, 2020
Apparent brightness of Mars exceeds +0.5 mag.
May 9, 2020
Mars leaves constellation Capricornus and enters Aquarius.
May 31, 2020
Apparent brightness of Mars exceeds 0.0 mag.
Jun 2, 2020
Mars comes closer than 1.0 AU.
Jun 12, 2020
Apparent diameter of Mars exceeds 10".
Jun 22, 2020
From Mars, Earth is at its greatest Eastern elongation from the Sun at about 46.60d. Only 84.4 percent of the visible Mars hemisphere is illuminated.
Jun 25, 2020
Mars leaves constellation Aquarius and enters Pisces.
Jul 1, 2020
Apparent brightness of Mars exceeds -0.5 mag.
Jul 8, 2020
Mars reaches its greatest southern heliocentric latitude (-1.8479d).
Mars leaves constellation Pisces and enters Cetus.
Jul 19, 2020
UAE Mars orbiter Hope successfully launched
Jul 23, 2020
China's Tianwen 1 Mars mission (orbiter, lander rover) successfully launched
Jul 26, 2020
Mars leaves constellation Cetus again and re-enters Pisces.
Jul 28, 2020
Apparent brightness of Mars exceeds -1.0 mag.
Jul 30, 2020
Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover with Ingenuity helicopter successfully launched
Aug 2, 2020
Mars in Perihelion (1.38138 AU, 206.6 million km).
Aug 4, 2020
Apparent diameter of Mars exceeds 15".
Aug 19, 2020
Apparent brightness of Mars exceeds -1.5 mag.
Aug 30, 2020
Mars comes closer than 0.5 AU.
Sep 3, 2020
Northern Winter, Southern Summer Equinox on Mars.
Sep 8, 2020
Apparent diameter of Mars exceeds 20".
Sep 9, 2020
Apparent brightness of Mars exceeds -2.0 mag.
Sep 10, 2020
Mars becomes stationary and then starts its retrograde opposition loop, as Earth passes between the Red Planet and the Sun.
Oct 1, 2020
Apparent brightness of Mars exceeds -2.5 mag.
Oct 6, 2020
Closest Approach of Mars and Earth (0.41492 AU = 62.06 million km, 38.78 million miles). Apparent diameter of Mars is 22.56".
Oct 13, 2020
Mars Opposition on Earth, Earth inferior conjunction on Mars. Apparent brightness of Mars reaches -2.62 mag in constellation Pisces.
Oct 20, 2020
Apparent brightness of Mars becomes fainter than -2.5 mag.
Nov 1, 2020
Apparent diameter of Mars decreases below 20".
Nov 5, 2020
Apparent brightness of Mars becomes fainter than -2.0 mag.
Nov 8, 2020
Mars moves beyond 0.5 AU.
Nov 16, 2020
Mars becomes stationary, ends its retrograde opposition loop, and resumes apparent prograde motion.
Nov 20, 2020
Apparent brightness of Mars becomes fainter than -1.5 mag.
Nov 28, 2020
Apparent diameter of Mars decreases below 15".
Dec 2, 2020
Mars passes the ascending node of its orbit, moving to the north or Earth's orbital plane, the ecliptic, and getting northern ecliptic latitudes.
Dec 5, 2020
Apparent brightness of Mars becomes fainter than -1.0 mag.
Dec 22, 2020
Apparent brightness of Mars becomes fainter than -0.5 mag.
Jan 1, 2021
Mars is seen in the evening sky in constellation Pisces at a distance of about 134.4 million km (0.89 AU) from Earth, at about -0.24 mag apparent brightness and 10.4" apparent diameter.
Jan 5, 2021
Apparent diameter of Mars decreases below 10".
Mars leaves constellation Pisces and enters Aries.
Jan 10, 2021
Apparent brightness of Mars becomes fainter than 0.0 mag.
Jan 11, 2021
Mars moves beyond 1.0 AU.
Jan 23, 2021
From Mars, Earth is at its greatest Western elongation from the Sun at about 39.6 deg. Only 88.5 percent of the visible Mars hemisphere is illuminated.
Feb 4, 2020
Apparent brightness of Mars becomes fainter than +0.5 mag.
Feb 8, 2021
Northern Spring, Southern Autumn Equinox on Mars.
Feb 23, 2021
Mars leaves constellation Aries and enters Taurus.
Mar 6, 2021
Apparent brightness of Mars becomes fainter than +1.0 mag.
Apr 13, 2021
Apparent diameter of Mars decreases below 5".
Apr 23, 2021
Apparent brightness of Mars becomes fainter than +1.5 mag.
Apr 24, 2021
Mars leaves constellation Taurus and enters Gemini.
Apr 28, 2021
Mars moves beyond 2.0 AU.
Jun 5, 2021
Mars reaches its greatest northern heliocentric latitude (+1.8479 d).
Jun 8, 2021
Mars leaves constellation Gemini and enters Cancer.
Jul 10, 2020
Mars leaves constellation Cancer and enters Leo.
Jul 12, 2021
Mars in Aphelion (1.66596 AU, 249.2 million km).
Jul 23, 2020
Mars at its least brightness (+1.84 mag)
Aug 25, 2021
Northern Summer, Southern Winter Solstice on Mars.
Sep 5, 2020
Mars leaves constellation Leo and enters Virgo.
Oct 8, 2021
Mars in conjunction with the Sun from Earth, in Virgo. Earth in superior conjunction with the Sun as seen from Mars. Distance 393 million km (2.6286 AU), apparent diameter 3.563", brightness +1.65 mag. This conjunction ends the 2020 apparition of Mars. It also starts the 2022 apparition of Mars.

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Last Modification: October 18, 2019