Photos of fiery Mars, at its best in 2 years

Photos from the EarthSky community of the bright planet Mars, now at its best. Earth passed between Mars and the sun – bringing the planet to a once-in-two-years opposition – on October 13, 2020.

Dark mountain with bright reddish dot high in dark sky above.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Doug Groenhoff caught bright Mars – brightest starlike object in the sky for most of the night now – above a mountain near Tucson, Arizona, on October 12. Doug wrote: “Mars rising over the Catalina Mountains, Tucson, Arizona. About 15 minutes after sunset. Day before its max opposition.”

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Orange ball with dark markings and white spot at the pole.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Nancy Ricigliano captured Mars from Long Island, New York, on October 6, using a Celestron 11-inch telescope. She wrote: “I had this telescope for three years. I could never get it collimated right. The week before I said I’m going to get this once and for all. I finally did it and this was my reward.” Thank you, Nancy.

Nine images of Mars increasing in size and resolution.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | John Nelson took these photos of Mars from August to October 2020, from Puget Sound, Washington, using a 12-inch Meade LX850 telescope. He wrote: “This is a composite featuring separate images of Mars during a two month progression from August 8th leading to its closest approach to Earth on October 6th. Mother Nature was very kind, offering clear skies in the Pacific Northwest at regular intervals for two months. I’ve been waiting for two years to do this…ever since the 2018 Mars opposition.”

Bright orange planet with dark markings and a white spot at the pole.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | John Nelson captured Mars at its closest approach to Earth on October 6, using a 12-inch telescope. Of the photo processing John wrote: “11,108 frames were captured over a period of 87 seconds. Pipp was used to crop and debayer the video sequence. Autostakkert3 was used to align the frames, select the best 2000 and stack them and produce a .png image which I then took into Registax6 for wavelets processing to sharpen and bring out detail. Finishing touches to contrast and lighting applied in Lightroom. Having close cropped the video sequence, I used PhotoshopElements9 to set the image in a wider field black background for asthetic purposes.”

Multiple images of Mars between August and October 2020.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Wo Wehali in Atlanta, Georgia caught these images of Mars. He wrote, “Here is a collage of images I’ve taken of Mars from August through the day Mars was closest to Earth, on October 6. In terms of detail, this has been a much better apparition than 2018!” And it’s not over yet. On October 13, Earth will pass between Mars and the sun.

Nearly full yellow moon with red dot close to its lower left.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Helio C. Vital in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil captured Mars very close to the moon on October 2, 2020. In this photo, Mars is about in the 8 o’clock position. Helio wrote: “By very little, the close encounter failed to become a grazing occultation. Only 4 arcminutes separated Mars from the lunar limb.”

Part of the moon, with a red dot at the top of the picture.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Brian Ottum caught the moon and Mars on October 2, 2020. In this photo, Mars is the tiny dot in the upper right. He wrote: “I took this from my remote control telescope located in the New Mexico desert. Cloudy here in Michigan, so am happy to see it ‘virtually.'”

Bright, nearly full moon with red dot some distance away.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Eliot Herman caught the moon just after full with Mars nearby, on October 2, 2020, from Tucson, Arizona. In this photo, Mars is in the upper left. He wrote: “The moon and Mars were really beautiful.”

Brown-orange ball with darker streaks and white spot at one edge.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Steven Bellavia caught Mars through a telescope from Mattituck, New York, at 10:41 p.m. September 30, 2020. That’s October 1 at 02:41 UTC. Thank you, Steven!

Telescopic image of Mars, with major features labeled.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Marcelo Barbosa in Texas captured this telescopic image of Mars on September 27, 2020. Mars will reach its once-in-2-years opposition on October 13. That’s when Earth will pass between Mars and the sun, bringing the planet closest to us for this 2-year period. Earth and Mars are already close, and the planet now shines brightly in our night sky. Plus the telescopic view of Mars is nearly at its best now! Thank you, Marcelo!

Vertical green curtains in a deep blue sky, with scattered stars and bright reddish Mars over rural landscape.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Joel Weatherly in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, caught the northern lights and Mars rising in the same view, September 26, 2020. He wrote: “This image features some of my favorite autumn sights, including the aurora borealis, Pleiades, and Mars. This week’s geomagnetic unrest has allowed for multiple nights of aurora observations here in Alberta. Mars has also been an incredible sight to observe, with its signature hue showing up plainly to the unaided eye.”

Bright Mars and a meteor.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Veteran meteor observer Eliot Herman in Tucson used an automatic all-sky camera to capture this cool image of a bright meteor and Mars over Tucson, Arizona, on September 22, 2020. He wrote: “Looks like it was shot from Mars – not really, of course – but it does look like Mars shot it toward Earth. First time I have caught such a conjunction.” View this image full-sized. Thank you, Eliot!

A ridgeline in the background, a lake in the foreground, and red Mars reflecting in the lake.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Paulette Haws captured the planet Mars this past Monday evening, September 21, 2020. Mars is very bright now and fiery red, rising in the east not long after sunset. In this photo, Mars is shining above, and reflected in, Little Tupper Lake in New York state. Thanks, Paulette!

Red and orange sphere with white spot at pole.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Aurelian Neacsu in Visina, Dambovita, Romania, captured this telescopic view of Mars on September 16, 2020. You can’t see much of Mars’ surface when the red planet is at its farthest from Earth. But – as Earth catches up to Mars in the race of the planets – the distance between our two worlds is shrinking. Thank you, Aurelian!

Multiple bright green wavy curtains in the air with one red spot.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | David Kakuktinniq at Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, Canada, also captured red Mars gleaming through the aurora borealis on September 12, 2020. He wrote: “Northern Lights over the Hudson Bay, with Mars near the center of the image.”

Moon and Mars over the sea with very distant set of lit-up towers.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Kaiih Henson captured the moon and Mars in the sky over a brightly lit construction site in Somerset, England. Kaiih wrote: “Fishing at Lilstock Beach, the full moon and Mars dueted in the night sky whilst building continues on the new Hinkley Point nuclear powerstation, unaware of the STELLAR performance happening above.” Thank you, Kaiih!

Moon and Mars rising above a ridgeline, with a glorious display of green northern lights filling most of the sky.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Abigail Atienza wrote: “I just want to share a photo of the waning gibbous moon and the red planet Mars (on the right) with the northern lights in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada. September 6, 2020, 9:20 p.m. Road to Nowhere.” Thank you, Abigail! See more photos of early September’s moon and Mars.

The edge of the bright moon appearing above a ridgeline, with reddish dot of Mars above.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Eliot Herman captured this dramatic view of Mars this past weekend, when it was near the moon: “Moon and Mars clearing the ridgeline in Tucson, Arizona. The close conjunction of the moon and bright near-opposition Mars was a striking sight. The terminator of the moon shows the terrain picking up light on the craters and mountains leading to the observed discontinuities [the jagged appearance of the upper edge of the moon].” Thank you, Eliot! See more photos of early September’s moon and Mars.

The glowing moon and Mars above tall buildings along a street in Singapore.

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Kannan A in Singapore captured the moon and Mars around 6:30 a.m. on September 5, 2020. He wrote: “The waning gibbous moon and planet Mars seen in the morning, descending toward the northwest of Singapore.” Thank you, Kannan A.See more photos of early September’s moon and Mars.

Bottom line: Photos from the EarthSky community of the bright planet Mars, now nearly at its best. Earth passed between Mars and the sun – bringing the planet to a once-in-two-years opposition – on October 13, 2020.

Deborah Byrd