Best Mars Sky Show of 2012 Occurs Saturday: How to Watch Online: Scientific American
Mars will make a close approach to Earth Saturday (March 3), and interested skywatchers can follow the action live online.
Every 26 months, the orbits of Earth and Mars align such that the two planets form a relatively straight line with the sun. This cosmic event is called an opposition, because the Red Planet sits on the exact opposite side of Earth from the sun.
Mars will be in opposition to Earth Saturday, and it will be visible even to stargazers under the cloudiest of skies. That’s because the online Slooh Space Camera will broadcast a free, real-time feed of the Mars opposition, beginning at 11:00 p.m. EST (0400 GMT on March 4).
Slooh will provide footage from multiple observatories around the world, including Arizona and the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa. The broadcast can be accessed at Slooh’s homepage, found here: events.slooh.com
Though the opposition occurs Saturday, the Red Planet’s actual closest approach to Earth won’t come until Monday (March 5), when the two bodies are separated by about 62.6 million miles (100.7 million kilometers). This discrepancy in dates is caused by Mars’ elliptical path around the sun. [Amazing Mars Photos]