Celestial Events To Look Forward To This Weekend, Mars Closest To Earth After 2 Years

First Posted: May 20, 2016 05:42 AM EDT

A lot of events will be lighting up the sky this weekend, as stargazers will be treated to two celestial events: a blue moon on Saturday, and a Mars opposition the day after.

Blue Moon

USA Today noted that there are typically three full moons in a season - one for each month. However, this spring will show four - one of which is dubbed as the blue moon. While the saying "once in a blue moon" indicates that it is a rare event, it does actually happen every few years - the next said to occur on January 31, 2018.

And no, it does not mean that the moon is blue, it just means that in a month, there is more than one full moon, which is why a total of four appear in a season.

Mars Opposition

Right after the blue moon, Mars will be making a special appearance in the sky - it will appear in the sky as it gets closer to Earth. The red planet will also be unusually bright in this time and will be seen from dusk until the evening as it reaches the "opposition" point in its orbit. This happens every two years or so, when Mars and the sun are aligned directly on earth.

To see this amazing event, NASA said, "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."

Not all oppositions can bring the Earth close to the Red Planet, though. The closest one still remains to be the one in 2003 - and it will keep the record for awhile. The next close encounter will not be until August 2287.

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