Can’t get to Mars? View red planet at its brightest at York U observatory


TORONTO, Tuesday, July 10, 2018 – Most people are unlikely to be part of a mission to Mars, but they will have an opportunity to view the red planet at its closest to Earth in 15 years with a little help from York University’s Allan I. Carswell Observatory and its telescopes.

“This is not an event to miss,” said University Professor Paul Delaney of the Faculty of Science and director of the observatory. “While Mars will still be 4,500 times smaller in apparent size than the Moon, it will appear particularly large and bright as it will be in ‘opposition’ to the sun. Mars will not be this close or bright again until 2035.”

An image of Mars. Credit: NASA/ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA

There will be free public viewings hosted by the observatory team at York University, who can also answer questions from the public, from July 25 to Aug. 1.

“Like all planets in our solar system, Earth and Mars orbit the sun, but Earth is closer to the sun and races along its orbit more quickly. Mars is said to be in ‘opposition’ when it is on the opposite side of the Earth relative to the sun,” said Delaney. “From our perspective, this means that Mars rises when the sun sets and sets when the sun rises.”

WHAT: Mars Extravaganza – free public viewings of Mars in opposition. The red planet is especially photogenic during opposition because it is fully illuminated by the sun.

Depending on crowd size, visitors may also be able to take a photo of Mars with their cell phone through the 40-cm telescope.

WHEN: Weeknights July 25 to Aug. 1, from 9 p.m. to midnight

WHERE: William Small Centre (WSC) arboretum, Keele campus. See location of WSC on Map under Academic/Administrative tab.

WHO: Paul Delaney and John Moores, assistant professor of Department of Earth and Space Science and Engineering in the Lassonde School of Engineering, are available to discuss Mars in opposition with the media ahead of time, including the following:

  • Why Mars will be closer and brighter
  • What people can hope to see
  • What does it mean to say Mars is in “opposition” to Earth
  • What is the best way to view the red planet

For more details, visit the event page on Facebook.

PHOTO OF MARS. Credit: NASA/ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team STScI/AURA


About York University
York University is known for championing new ways of thinking that drive teaching and research excellence. Our students receive the education they need to create big ideas that make an impact on the world. Meaningful and sometimes unexpected careers result from cross-discipline programming, innovative course design and diverse experiential learning opportunities. York students and graduates push limits, achieve goals and find solutions to the world’s most pressing social challenges, empowered by a strong community that opens minds. York U is an internationally recognized research university – our 11 faculties and 26 research centres have partnerships with 200+ leading universities worldwide. Located in Toronto, York is the third largest university in Canada, with a strong community of 53,000 students, 7,000 faculty and administrative staff, and more than 300,000 alumni. York U's fully bilingual Glendon campus is home to Southern Ontario's Centre of Excellence for French Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education. 

Media Contact:

Sandra McLean, York University Media Relations, 416-736-2100 ext. 22097,