Mars and Uranus are night-sky neighbors at the moment, and you can get good views of their unusual meetup online tonight (Aug. 1).
The two planets are close enough in the sky right now to be seen together through binoculars or a low-power telescope. But even if you don’t have such gear, you can still get good looks at in a webcast tonight.
The Virtual Telescope Project, which is run by Italian astrophysicist Gianluca Masi, will stream views of Mars and Uranus tonight, beginning at 9 p.m. EDT (0100 GMT on Aug. 2). You can watch live here at Space.com or directly at the Virtual Telescope Project (opens in new tab).
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Mars and Uranus have been approaching each other in our sky for a while now. Their rendezvous will peak tomorrow (Aug. 2), when the two planets will be separated by just 1.5 degrees. (Reminder: Your clenched fist held at arm’s length covers about 10 degrees of sky.)
Though Uranus is much bigger than Mars, the Red Planet appears far brighter in our sky because of its relative proximity to Earth and to the sun. The bluish green Uranus is currently shining at roughly magnitude 5.8, whereas Mars checks in at about 0.2. (On the logarithmic magnitude scale that astronomers use, lower numbers denote brighter objects. For comparison, the brightest planet in our sky, Venus, shines with a maximum magnitude of about -4.6 (opens in new tab).)
If you’re looking for a telescope or binoculars with which to watch Mars approach Uranus, go to our guides for the best binoculars deals and the best telescope deals now. Our best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography can also help you prepare for the next skywatching sight on your own.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out There (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).