Mars to be at its 'biggest and brightest' as it aligns with Earth

Video report by ITV News Correspondent John Ray

Mars will at its biggest and brightest in the night sky as the planet lines up with Earth on the same side of the sun.

The event, known as “opposition” among astronomers only happens once every two years and is when the Red Planet and the sun are on directly opposite sides of Earth.

All three bodies will be in a straight line at roughly 11.30pm.

Although people should see the bright orange planet already, it will be at its best around 1am on Wednesday, according to the Royal Observatory Greenwich.

Hannah Banyard, an astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich said: “It’s a really good chance to view it – the last time this happened was 2018 but it was quite difficult for a lot of people to see because it was quite down in the horizon.”

The best time to see Mars will be around 1am on Wednesday morning. Credit: PA

She added: “For about a month or so now, it’s been quite easy to see, as it’s getting close to opposition it’s rising earlier, so it rises from sunset and then you can see it and it gets up quite high into the sky, so it’s really easy to spot.”

Opposition occurs approximately every 26 months.

Nasa describes the phenomenon as: "During opposition, Mars and the sun are on directly opposite sides of Earth.

"From our perspective on our spinning world, Mars rises in the east just as the sun sets in the west.

"Then, after staying up in the sky the entire night, Mars sets in the west just as the sun rises in the east.

"Since Mars and the sun appear on opposite sides of the sky, we say that Mars is in "opposition."

"If Earth and Mars followed perfectly circular orbits, opposition would be as close as the two planets could get.

Mars Credit: PA

Despite cloudy weather forecast for parts of the UK, Mars should be visible among any breaks and even through lighter cloud, Ms Banyard added.

Ms Baynard said you should be able to see Mars with the naked eye, but recommended using a four-inch telescope with 24-millimetre magnification.

It will look like a blurry orange star with just the human eye, when using a telescope stargazers should be able to make out some features on the surface of the planet.

The next time Mars will be this big and bright will be 2033.