11 July 2024

Stargazers in Thailand and worldwide will have an ideal opportunity to view Mars, as it will approach a distance of about 81.5 million kilometres from Earth, which is the closest it will come this year, according to the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand (NARIT).

Mars will appear at its largest since 2020, reaching an apparent size of 17.2 arcseconds (an angular measurement equal to 1/3600 of a degree) across, dropping only to 17.1 at opposition on December 8th.

On December 8th, Mars will lie directly opposite the Sun, with Earth nestled in between. This arrangement is such that Mars rises at sunset and stays illuminated in reddish orange throughout the night, before setting at sunrise. This means thatthere is plenty of time to dodge clouds and stargazers will geta good look at it, according to NARIT.

With a ten-inch telescope, with 100 times magnification, stargazers will see details of the Mars surface as well as its icy poles, said NARIT.

Activities to observe Mars will be held by NARIT at the four observatories in Mae Rim district of Chiang Mai, Nakhon Ratchasima, Chachoengsao and Songkhla provinces. Live broadcasts of the stellar phenomenon will also be shown via the NARIT Facebook page.

Telescopes will be installed at 560 schools, which arenetworking with NARIT for this event.