The Zenith Observatory, located in Monte Carmelo, in Minas Gerais, captured the planet Mars at its maximum approach to Earth during the night of last Wednesday, 7. The distance between the two planets was 62.7 million kilometers, the smallest expected for the next 14 years.
The recording, which lasted five hours, managed to record in detail the rotation movement and some geological structures of the red planet. The images were taken with the SCT Celestron C8 telescope, CG5 GT mount, ASI290mc camera.
“During capture, in the south, we can see the very small polar cap, only what was left of it due to the summer in the Martian hemisphere. In the north, a more bluish-white tone is the polar hood, a cloud of water crystals that forms and precedes the growth of the polar cap. On the right we also have some occasional blue clouds. The dark spots that are seen across the globe are characteristic of the Martian relief, in particular Syrtis Major, which looks like the map of Africa, “said Carlos Alberto Palhares, technician in Information Technology, amateur astronomer and astrophotographer at the Zenith Observatory.
Palhares explained that this maximum approximation between Mars and Earth happens every two years. In 2018, it was the culmination of approximation, but the tendency is for the two planets to move further away from each period and now only get so close again in 14 years. This is due to the orbit of the red planet, which is more elliptical. “This year’s approach is farther away than in 2018. Only in 2035, Mars will be as close as it is now. For those who like to watch, this is the best moment,” he said.
How to observe Mars?
According to the astrophotographer, Mars can be seen for another 8 or 9 months. “Only during that time, it gets more and more distant and tiny until it disappears. When you get close to the Sun, you can’t see anymore.”
The red planet is star-shaped and very bright, in a very reddish hue. “At night, you can see with the naked eye being born in the East, more or less where the take. Around midnight, high in the sky, right over your head. And more towards the end of the morning, setting to the west, more or less where you can see the sunset, ”said Palhares.
To facilitate identification, he also indicated the installation of sky recognition software on his cell phone. One of the most common, according to Palhares, is SkyView, which shows the sky in real time from where the person is.