Double whammy for space enthusiasts! Blue moon to coincide with Mars opposition

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4 Fast Facts

  • Mars, Earth, and the sun will all align on Sunday.
  • This is called the Mars opposition.
  • This means Mars will be closer to earth than it has in a decade.
  • The Blue Moon will also occur this weekend; it only happens once every few years.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – It’s a great weekend for space enthusiasts! Astronomers and stargazers will be treated to two big celestial events: a Blue Moon on Saturday and the Mars opposition on Sunday! And fortunately, those of us in central Indiana are expected to have good visibility for both events.

According to Accuweather.com, there are typically three full moons every spring season, but every few years there are four full moons. When this happens, the third full moon is called a “Blue Moon.” Because a Blue moon only occurs once every few years, the saying “Once in a Blue Moon” evolved from this. The next Blue Moon will occur on January 31, 2018.

Photo courtesy of Accuweather.com

Photo courtesy of Accuweather.com

On Sunday, Earth will pass directly between Mars and the sun. This event is called the opposition of Mars, according to EarthSky.org.  As a result, Mars will shine bigger and brighter in the night sky! Mars’ opposition occurs every other year, but this year it will bring the red planet especially close to earth. Mars will be 46.8 million miles from earth, making it the closest Mars has been to our planet since 2003.

Photo courtesy of Accuweather.com

Photo courtesy of Accuweather.com

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