Tracing Mars in the Earth´s Sky

By: Tunc Tezel


Region: Middle East

Country: Turkey

Date: Oct. 2011 - July 2012

Seen on Astronomy Picture of the Day when this 10 MB video animation loads (takes few minutes), you can track the motion of Mars in the Earth sky during the course of 9 months. Also seen on National Geographic News, this sequence of images follow Mars from late October 2011 (top right) through early July 2012 (bottom left). The images are spaced some 5 to 7 days apart and they trace the retrograde motion of Mars in the Earth's night sky. Mars didn't actually reverse the direction of its orbit. Instead, the apparent backwards motion with respect to the background stars is a reflection of the motion of the Earth itself. Retrograde motion can be seen each time Earth overtakes and laps planets orbiting farther from the Sun, the Earth moving more rapidly through its own relatively close-in orbit. TWAN photographer Tunc Tezel has a special interest to capture long-term motions of planets in the night sky and his collection of Mars retrograde motions made in the last two decades is a unique effort. Although the above video is not considered a TWAN-style footage (as there is no landscape in the foreground), it is published on TWAN for its brilliant astronomy educational aspect. -Cenk E. Tezel & Tunc Tezel

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