When Z is for Mars
A composite of images
captured about a week apart
from mid August 2022 through late March 2023,
this series traces the
of ruddy-colored Mars.
Progressing from lower right to upper left
Mars makes a
Z-shaped path as it wanders
past the Pleiades and Hyades star clusters,
through the constellation Taurus in planet Earth's night sky.
Seen about every two years, Mars doesn't
actually reverse the direction of its orbit
to trace out the Z-shape though.
Instead, the apparent backwards or retrograde motion with
respect to the background stars is a
reflection of the orbital motion of Earth itself.
Retrograde motion can be seen each time Earth overtakes
and laps planets orbiting farther from the Sun, the
Earth moving more rapidly through its own relatively close-in orbit.
High in northern hemisphere skies the
Red Planet was opposite the Sun
and at its closest and brightest on December 8,
near the center of the frame.
Seen close to Mars
a popular visitor to the inner Solar System,
comet ZTF (C/2022 E3),
was also captured on two dates, February 10 and February 16.
Authors & editors:
NASA Web Site Statements, Warnings,
NASA Official: Jay Norris.
A service of:
& Michigan Tech. U.
Publications with keywords: Mars
Publications with words: Mars