This spring, Mars will appear the biggest and brightest it’s been in over a decade, and here are the best times to see it.
It is not often that Earthlings get a good look at Mars. To begin with, it’s a small planet, and it spends most of its time far away. Usually skywatchers see it as just a tiny, fuzzy, orange blob in the eyepiece. The only time they get a good look at its surface markings, clouds, dust storms and changing polar caps is around the time of its oppositions — when Mars appears diametrically opposite to the sun in the sky — which happen at intervals of a bit more than two years. And not all Mars oppositions are created equal: The best ones come in bunches of two or three, which repeat in a cycle that averages 15 to 17 years long.