One of the biggest celestial events takes begins this month. Mars, known as the “red planet,” will appear extremely big and bright over Metro Vancouver.
Back in 2003, the planet was as close as it had been to Earth in nearly 60,000 years! Of course, it won’t be as close as that; however, it will still be a spectacular midnight manifestation.
Ideal viewing begins on July 27th, which coincides with the Buck Moon. Afterward, the planet will appear extremely bright until the 30th, and then even more so on the 31st.
Last month, another heavenly body, Saturn, dazzled Metro Vancouver skies. The ringed planet was accompanied by a Strawberry Full Moon, which celebrates the beginning of strawberry picking season.
Mars in Metro Vancouver
Interestingly, the amber-hued planet doesn’t gain its brightness from its size, such as the celestial giant, Jupiter. In fact, it is only about half of the size of Earth. Instead, the planet’s brightness depends on the its proximity to Earth, as well as the sun.
“Mars orbits the sun just one step outward from Earth’s orbit. Earth takes a year to orbit the sun once. Mars takes about two years to orbit once. Opposition for Mars – when Earth passes between Mars and the sun – happens every two years and 50 days,” reports Earthsky.
With that being said, you’ll still be able to see this ruby orb with the naked eye. Indeed, the planet will appear it’s brightest since 2003.
In order to see the moon most clearly, stargazers should opt to travel outside of city limits; light pollution from the city lights obscures the view.
One great spot is Porteau Cove, a provincial park about halfway in between Vancouver and Squamish. In addition, higher elevations provide optimal vantage points to avoid lights below.