Just before midnight tonight, look to the southeast skies to see a bright, red, glowing Mars in the night skies because the planet will begin its approach to its closest point to Earth in a decade.
Mars hasn’t been this close to Earth since November 2005, and it’ll make for quite the sight for stargazers around the world when it reaches its peak point in six weeks on May 30.
The red planet is taking a zigzag pattern across our spring skies as it goes into retrograde and for the past month has been slowing its apparent eastward movement across the night sky culminating in what will appear like it has stopped moving altogether tonight.
Mars will be 97 million miles closer to Earth and shine 10 times brighter than it did at the start of this year.
Barring excessive light pollution or inclement weather, most observers around the world should be able to view the planet to the southeast. For those without a telescope or an extensive knowledge of star constellations, you might want to consider a mobile app that maps the night sky and identifies the location of the planet.
On June 30, the planet will resume its normal eastward trajectory as it comes out of retrograde.
This zigzagging pattern through the sky once stumped ancient Greek observers concerned about the irregular movements. It wasn’t until Nicolaus Copernicus came along in 1543 to explain the phenomenon by reimagining that the Earth is not the center of the universe. Calculations tend to be easier when you properly orient yourself in the galaxy.
Earth is just faster and closer to the Sun than Mars and is in the midst of passing it right now. Earth will fully overtake Mars by the end of May.