Want to see Mars tonight? Eric explains how!

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - If you've spent any time on social media this week, you've heard of the longest solar eclipse of the century happening Friday. You know, the one we won't be able to see in North America. But hold on, we'll get a pretty cool show ourselves.

Thursday night and Friday, let the full moon be your reference in the southeast sky. Nestled up next to the moon will be the planets Mars and Saturn. Saturn will just be a spec of light. Neat, but not a huge deal and we get a full moon at least once a month.

The real show will be Mars.

Mars is at opposition, a fancy word that just means it's at closest approach to Earth. That makes Mars extra big and bright. Big enough, in fact, for you to actually notice it glows orange. All this will be visible with just the naked eye.

If you have help, another door opens for you. A basic telescope or even a good zoom lens on a camera will reveal the two moons of Mars, Phobos, and Deimos (Greek for Fear and Panic). The trio of the moon, Mars and Saturn will appear slightly different Thursday evening versus Friday evening, but they're all snuggled up close.

Look southeast after dusk both nights. Drier air across central Alabama should help limit leftover cloud cover, allowing better-than-usual viewing conditions for an event like this.

Happy viewing!

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