Look up tonight! Mars will be visible above central Indiana on Friday

Mars will shine at its brightest tonight as it makes its closest approach to earth in 15 years.

Mars is reaching its opposition, when it’s in alignment on the opposite side of the Earth and the sun. This occurs at the same time that it will reach one of its closest points to the Earth, about 35.9 million miles away. This is what makes it appear so brightly in our sky, beginning early Friday morning.

While Mars will be overhead for people in central Chile, South African and Australia, it will be low in the southern sky for those watching in the US and Europe.

“Despite its glorious girth, northern observers will pay a price during this juicy Mars apparition,” Sky & Telescope contributing editor Bob King said. “At most perihelic oppositions, including this one, the planet retreats to the belly of the ecliptic low in the southern sky.”

Mars will actually be at its closest approach since 2003 on Monday and Tuesday, when it is 35.78 million miles away. So if bad weather disrupts your opportunity on Friday, there will be more chances. Experts estimate that Mars’ brightness will persist for several weeks.

Mars’ closest approach will be at 4 a.m. EST Tuesday, according to EarthSky.org.

Although it won’t look nearly as large as the blood moon, Mars will be its largest if you’re looking through a telescope and close to its maximum brightness in our sky. Mars is also safe to view with the naked eye.

The DNR is hosting several events tonight to celebrate the full moon.

There will be a full moon 5K at Patoka Lake; a full moon hike at Indiana Dunes State Park; a glowing moon craft at Shades State Park; a full moon hike at Cecil M Harden Lake; a full moon hike at Shades State Park; a full moon hike at Turkey Run State Park; and a July full moon hike at Charlestown State Park.