Mars will appear orange and distinct in the night sky this month. (Damian Peach photo)

Mars jumps out from the night sky across B.C.

Mars is the brightest it’s been in 15 years this October

With Mars at its brightest in 15 years and two full moons – October is a great month to look up.

Mallory Thorp, a PhD student in the department of astronomy and physics at the University of Victoria, explains that Mars is currently in opposition, which is a “fancy word” used for when the planets and the sun align.

“So the Earth is going to be in between the sun and Mars,” said Thorp.

Mars slides into opposition every two years – due to Earth’s position on its orbit this is as close as our planet will get to Mars in the next 15 years, making the red planet extremely bright and distinct.

READ ALSO: Victoria astronomer helps discover 10 billion-year-old galaxy cluster

“It’s a combination of opposition and our position within our own elliptical orbit,” she adds.

To locate Mars, Thorp suggests going out just after sunset and gazing northeast, which is the direction the sun and planets rise. As the night goes on, Mars – which will be bright orange – will move from east to west across the sky basically following the same path the sun makes during the day.

“It will really stand out from any other star,” she said. “I think if you even stood outside and put your head up and wiggled it around, your eyes would catch it.”

READ ALSO: How much do you know about the moon?

Mars will be closest to Earth until Oct. 13 and after that it, the red planet will get “dimmer and dimmer for 15 years” before it comes back around, although there are periods where Mars will get slightly brighter when in opposition.

Another notable but unrelated space event this month is a double full moon.

There are about 29.5 days in between each full moon, which means there’s usually only a chance for one full moon a month. However, if one occurs at the beginning of the month, there’s a chance a second one could take place before the month is over – which is exactly what happened in October with the first full moon taking place on Oct. 1 and the second occurring on Oct. 31.

“This is the time of year where we all get a little bit sad as the days get shorter and it starts to get dark early, but it’s a nice reminder that there’s lots of beautiful stuff that we don’t have to stay up late to see now,” said Clare Higgs, a fellow PhD student.

For the best stargazing experience, Higgs likes to go to the beach under Mount Douglas due to the lack of streetlights, while Thorp recommends Cadboro Bay, adding that being near open water is a great way to reduce light pollution.


 

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.  
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

AstronomyAviation and space

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Sicamous Eagles recently moved into the “Eagles’ Nest” dormitory behind the Sicamous and District Rec Centre. (Jim Elliot/Eagle Valley News)
Sicamous Eagles move into dormitory on arena grounds

The KIJHL hockey team’s billet system was strained by COVID-19 so they are piloting a new solution

After dragon boat races, the Carnation Ceremony remembers those who have died and those who are fighting cancer. This year, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Friends Abreast Dragon Boat team delivered 400 carnations to the staff at nine public schools, three SASCU offices and the women’s league at the curling rink as a reminder for women to book their mammogram appointments. (File photo)
Salmon Arm dragon boat team gives carnations as mammogram reminder

Breast cancer second leading cause of cancer death among Canadian women

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 18 COVID-19 cases, highest daily count since July

The total of COVID-19 cases in the region is now at 662

A Kelowna clinic decided to immunize their patients in a drive-thru flu clinic earlier this month. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Interior Health anticipates increase in flu vaccinations this season

Some 300,000 doses of flu vaccine ready for distribution across Southern Interior

Snow started falling early Oct. 23, 2020 to leave Salmon Arm and area with a wintery look. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Snow in Shuswap this early in October rare but no records broken

Environment Canada predicts clear weather in Salmon Arm for election day – Oct. 24

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Voters are saying they felt safe voting in person despite the current pandemic. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Central Okanagan voters talk about their pandemic election experience

Despite an election taking place during COVID-19, residents said they felt safe voting in person

Efforts to replace the aging Rutland Middle School have been put off by another year by the ministry of education. (File photo)
Education ministry won’t replace Central Okanagan school anytime soon

New Westside Secondary top priority for ministry of education

Cole Collingwood casts his mock ballot at Vernon’s Mission Hill Elementary School ahead of the provincial election Oct. 24, 2020. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
PHOTOS: Okanagan students cast mock election ballots

At Mission Hill Elementary, the election is a chance to learn about the democratic process

BC Liberals Leader Andrew Wilkinson, BC Greens Sonia Furstenau, BC NDP John Horgan (The Canadian Press photos)
British Columbians vote in snap election called during COVID-19 pandemic

At dissolution, the NDP and Liberals were tied with 41 seats in the legislature, while the Greens held two seats

Thanks to efforts by a Kelowna shelter and Elections BC, anyone who wishes to can vote in the 2020 BC Provincial Election, even if they don’t have a fixed address. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Kelowna group ensures people experiencing homelessness can vote

Shelter supervisor says voting ‘a fundamental right’ even for those without a fixed address

(Big White Ski Resort photo)
Big White receives 21 cm of snow in 24 hours

Resort’s snow base 41 cm deep, one month until opening day

Most Read