Last Sunday, we were at Rajah Solayman Park to hold a public viewing of Mars. This is a project of the Astronomers Without Borders in collaboration with Sidewalk Astronomers. The activity was entitled “Beauty Without Borders: Hello Red Planet” where observers all around the globe set their scopes on the streets to let people get a glimpse of the red planet during its closest approach/opposition.
The opposition is the time when the Sun, the Earth, and a superior planet (planets orbiting beyond Earth’s orbit) are aligned making the planet visible the entire night. In this scenario, the planet will rise just as the Sun will set, and will set just as the planet will rise. This is also when the planet is closest to Earth, making it the best time to observe it.
A lot of people passing by came to take a glimpse of Mars through our telescopes. We had 5 telescopes set up to look at Mars for that evening. Unfortunately, there were some clouds covering Mars every now and then so we let the people view the Moon during those periods.