“Mars, can you hear me?”
So goes my friend as we gazed at the Red Planet last night. It looked really beautiful set against a partly cloudy sky doomed to rain with only a few stars to compete for attention. It was brighter and bigger than usual, glowing with a reddish-orange tinge. Yet, what made it more beautiful was the fact that Mars won’t be seen like that for the next 284 years.
It was around 9:00 to 11:30 when we peered into the heavens to witness Mars in its rare glory. As the hours progressed, the sky got devoured by greedy clouds and soon enough it rained. We weren’t able to see Mars at its peak which happened between 12:00 to 3:00 in the wee hours of the morning but at least we got very very close.
Come to think of it, Mars can often be seen in the night sky. It’s just that people don’t bother to gaze and marvel at the beauty of it, too preoccupied with Earth-ly concerns. To some, if not, most, there is no big deal about the Mars opposition. But think about it, the last time Mars got closest to our planet happened in 57,538 BC and last night, we were given the rarest of opportunities to witness it again! It makes you wonder at the ephemeral nature of our existence. We are mere mayflies or even lesser when set against the backdrop of cosmic time. So, were where you last night?
I wonder, if to Martians, granting they exist, there is such a thing as an Earth opposition? Would they also gaze at out planet in awe when it appears brighter and bigger than usual, glowing with a bluish tinge?
Earth, can you hear us?