The 4th planet in our solar system, Mars, is regularly seen as a yellow-orange star in our night skies.

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It’s most likely the most likely planet to be believed of together Earth’s ‘sister’ civilization but, actually, Mars is further away from united state than Venus and it’s rather a little smaller 보다 our residence planet.

Although it lives at an median distance of almost 142 million miles native Earth, it come close sufficient to view its surface functions with a straightforward telescope.

Planet Mars (source)

Let’s find out how and when this happens.

The distance of Mars alters Over Time

Mars is 35.8 million mile away as soon as it is closest come Earth and also 249.1 million miles away at the furthest.

We recognize that planet has one elliptical orbit approximately the Sun. Mars’ orbit, top top the various other hand, is more oval contrasted to Earth’s. In addition to this, earth’s closeness to the sunlight leads it to complete two orbits in the time that that takes Mars to complete one.

As a result, together both planets swing in their respective orbits, the distance between then changes. There space times when Mars and its two moons space behind the Sun, which leads to the alignment that Mars, the Sun, and Earth. At this point, recognized as a conjunction, Mars is as much away together it deserve to be indigenous Earth, at practically 249.1 million mile (401 million kilometers).

As the distance keeps changing, Mars’ closest technique to planet occurs as soon as both planets are on the same next of the Sun, referred to as opposition. At this time, earth is put in between our Sun and also Mars, to reduce the distance between planets to practically 35.8 million miles (57.6 million kilometers).

Although the Martian orbital duration is around 23 months, opposition wake up every 26 month (two years and two months, or 791 days to be exact). Throughout each of these times, Mars is closest come Earth and shines the largest and brightest. In fact, its noticeable magnitude changes from -0.5 to -2.7 as it move from its farthest away come its nearest, respectively.

Changes in size and also magnitude as Mars philosophies opposition (source)

Since over there is no clear cut answer come the distance between Earth and Mars, we have the right to instead try to understand Mars’ closest, farthest, and average distances with respect to Earth.

Mars’ Closest method to Earth

Mars is closest to Earth during its opposition as soon as Mars is ~ above the same side of the sun as Earth yet directly opposite the sunlight in ours sky. The the smallest that this distance can be is 35.8 million miles (57.6 million km). The planets’ orbits do opposition occur every 26 months.

The dates and distances because that the next couple of oppositions are given below:

DateDistanceApparent MagnitudeConstellation
October 13, 202039 million miles (62 million km)-2.6Pisces
December 08, 202251 million mile (82 million km)-1.9Taurus
January 15, 202559 million miles (95 million km)-1.4Gemini
February 19, 202763 million miles (101 million km)-1.2Leo
March 25, 202960 million miles (96.5 million km)-1.3Virgo

The truth that both Earth and also Mars orbit in elliptical orbits indicates that there will be transforms in them over time. The closest strategy of the two planets was in 2018, as soon as it was as close as 35.8 million miles, a street that it will not repeat until September 2035.

Opposition is the best time to watch Mars from her backyard. Usage a suitable planetary telescope and also look come its surface, through the nearly non-existent Martian atmosphere, come spy Mars’ significant surface features.

Mars’ Furthest distance From the Sun

Mars is farthest from earth at solar conjunctions. The maximum street that this deserve to be is 249.1 million mile (401 million km).

The days for the next few solar shortcut are offered below:

October 08, 2021240 million miles (386 million km)Virgo
November 18, 2023235 million mile (378 million km)Libra
January 09, 2026223 million miles (359 million km)Sagittarius
May 25, 2030234 million mile (377 million km)Taurus

During solar conjunctions, Mars will be on the other side that the Sun, closer come it 보다 to Earth. The will have a separation of only 0 degrees and 16 seconds, do it difficult to observe under the Sun’s glare. This is likewise the time the Mars is smallest and faintest.

Average distance of Mars

The closest and also furthest ranges of Mars from planet happen every 26 months. The mean distance the Mars from planet hovers roughly 142 million miles (229 million km).

Now, the is essential to keep in mind that these numbers are not set in stone, yet are beneficial approximations to remember.

How long Does it take it to gain to Mars?

It bring away anywhere between 39 days come 333 days for a spaceship to obtain to Mars. Light, top top the other hand, travel to Mars in 12 minutes and 42 seconds at its typical distance the 142 million miles.

So far, in this article, we have actually learned the distance from earth to Mars in ~ two vital points in that is orbit. We deserve to now continue to understand just how long the takes to acquire to the renowned red planet.

There room two means to go around this. First, we will look at the moment light bring away to with Mars.

Next, we will certainly board a spaceship (imaginatively, the course) and see just how long it’ll take us to take trip to the 4th planet in our solar device (we cannot travel at the rate of light, therefore this have to be an amazing analysis).

Let’s go!

How lengthy Does Light take to Travel from Mars come Earth?

Light travel the fastest of all recognized objects because it has no mass. Its speed is a chuck 186,282 miles every second. In ~ this rate, let’s take a look at the shortest, longest, and the mean time because that light come travel in between the two planets:

Shortest = 35.8 million mile (57.6 million km) = 193 seconds = 3 minutes and 13 seconds.

Average = 142 million mile (229 million km) = 762.2 seconds = 12 minutes and also 42 seconds.

Furthest = 249 million mile (401 million km) = 1336.6 seconds = 22 minutes and 16 seconds.

At its average distance that 142 million miles, irradiate takes 12 minutes and 42 secs to reach planet from Mars. As the planets orbit the Sun, this time varies between 3 minute 13 seconds and also 22 minutes 16 seconds.

This also method that as soon as you look in ~ Mars in the morning skies, you are seeing it together it looked at the very least 3 minutes 13 secs ago and probably as lengthy as 22 minutes 16 secs ago!

These calculations space if we could travel in ~ the speed of light, which, unfortunately, we cannot. So stop look at how long it would take us people to gain to Mars.

How lengthy Does it take it a Spaceship to take trip to Mars?

A spaceship takes approximately nine months to travel to Mars native Earth.

Until now, we have been concentrated on understanding just how Mars’ and Earth’s orbits work. In order to get to Mars, considering the rate of our spaceship and the path it takes is also very important. Let’s take it a look in ~ past objectives to see how long they took:

MissionLaunch DateTravel Time (in days)
Mariner 4November 28, 1964228
Viking 1August 20, 1975304
Viking 2September 09, 1975333
Mars global SurveyorNovember 07, 1996308
Mars refer OrbiterJune 02, 2003201

In enhancement to the speed of the spaceship, the take trip time come Mars likewise depends ~ above the path taken.

The shortest street is a straight line between the 2 planets. However, because the planets room constantly in motion, the path we monitor is never so straightforward. Also, a spacecraft’s speed has to slow as it get Mars so that it can be caught by that gravitational ar (and not fly away into space due come high speed).

It takes between 128 days to 333 days to fly to Mars in a spacecraft.

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The fastest spacecraft ever launched from planet was the brand-new Horizons which explored Pluto. In ~ its record speed of 36,000 miles per hour, if new Horizons were launched for Mars, it would take 942 hrs or 39 days come reach.

The shortest time a spacecraft has taken to gain to Mars from earth is 128 work (Mariner 7). The longest journey took 333 work (Viking 2).


Mars is a fascinating planet that move closer towards and then more away from united state as us both orbit the sun.

Although it could be less pretty when it is much away, that oppositions occur once every 26 months, during which it will shine seven times brighter 보다 at that dimmest.

While we cannot hop top top a spacecraft simply yet to walk to Mars, psychic these ideas next time girlfriend glance in ~ the red world will make her observations much more interesting!