Can’t get to Mars? View planet at its brightest at the Allan I. Carswell Observatory


Most people are unlikely to be part of a mission to Mars, but they will have an opportunity to view the red planet at its closest to Earth in 15 years with a little help from York University’s Allan I. Carswell Observatory and its telescopes.

The University’s observatory team will host Mars Extravaganza from July 25 to Aug. 1, which consists of free public viewings and an opportunity to engage with the observatory team.

Photo of Mars (image:NASA/ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA)

“This is not an event to miss,” said University Professor Paul Delaney of the Faculty of Science and director of the observatory. “While Mars will still be 4,500 times smaller in apparent size than the moon, it will appear particularly large and bright as it will be in ‘opposition’ to the sun. Mars will not be this close or bright again until 2035.”

The red planet is especially photogenic during opposition because it is fully illuminated by the sun.

“Like all planets in our solar system, Earth and Mars orbit the sun, but Earth is closer to the sun and races along its orbit more quickly. Mars is said to be in ‘opposition’ when it is on the opposite side of the Earth relative to the sun,” said Delaney. “From our perspective, this means that Mars rises when the sun sets and sets when the sun rises.”

Depending on crowd size, visitors may also be able to take a photo of Mars with their cell phone through the 40-cm telescope.

The event will run weeknights July 25 to Aug. 1, from 9 p.m. to midnight. Admission is free. For more details, visit the event page on Facebook.