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Mars Will Be On Retrograde This Week -- What to See In The Sky

Apr 13, 2016 04:05 AM EDT
Hubble Telescope Offers Best-Ever View Of Mars
391621 01: FILE PHOTO: Frosty white ice clouds and swirling orange dust storms float above a vivid rusty landscape on Mars, June 26, 2001 in this sharpest view ever obtained by an Earth-based telescope. The Earth-orbiting Hubble telescope made this photograph when Mars was approximately 43 million miles (68 million kilometers) from Earth - its closest approach to our planet since 1988.
(Photo : NASA/Getty Images)

Mars will soon begin its retrograde motion on Saturday, April 16. During its retrograde motion, It will seem like Mars is going on reverse, moving westward unlike its usual eastward path.

According to the report from National Geographic, the retrograde motion of Mars is due to the closer orbit and faster movement of Earth in its orbital track than the red planet.

During Earth's orbit around the sun, it catches up to Mars, creating an illusion that may make the red planet look like it is slowing down on its eastward motion. After the Earth passes the red planet, Mars will start to look like it is going to the west. Mars will retain its usual eastward motion once Earth is far enough.

Mars will be most visible in the sky a few hours before dawn. By mid-month, Mars will be sharing the sky with its rival, red supergiant star Antares, which means "equal to or rival of Mars."

The red planet will also be as twice as bright by the end of the month compared to the view we have seen in the beginning of April.

On the other hand, Jupiter will be accompanying our moon in the night sky this coming Sunday, April 17. Both of them will rise in the southeastern sky. They will appear to be five degrees apart from each other, about the width of three fingers held at arm's length.

Other sky phenomena to watch out for this April, according to the press release of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, is the Lyrid meteor shower.

Lyrid meteor showers, as per Space Weather, occur when Earth plows within the dusty tail of the Comet Thatcher. These dusts enter Earth's atmosphere at 49 kilometers per second, disintegrating as streak of lights.

The best time to view the Lyrid meteor shower will be before dawn on April 23.

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