Curiosity spots Earth shining brightly in the Martian night sky

On the 529th day of Curiosity’s journey on Mars, the rover turned its cameras to the skies and sent back this humbling image of Earth and our moon.

Our planet and moon appear as two small dots in the Martian sky, no bigger or more significant than Mars or Jupiter look to us.

The image was taken Jan. 31 Earth time, 80 minutes after the sun set on Mars. Although Earth and the moon look small, they are currently the two brightest bodies in the Martian night sky, according to a release from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. 

If you or I were standing on the Martian surface, we would have no trouble seeing our home planet with the naked eye. 


PHOTOS: Moons of the solar system

Earth does not always appear so bright on Mars. The orbits of the two planets are taking them close to each other right now. Mars will continue to get brighter in our night sky through early spring, just as Earth will brighten in the Martian sky.

However, in April, Earth will move between Mars and the sun and will no longer be visible from the surface of our planetary neighbor. We’ll be hidden by the glare of the sun until the planetary clockwork makes us visible -- not in all our blue glory, but as a shining evening “star” -- once again. 

If you love a little planetary perspective, follow me on Twitter for more like this.



Get our weekly Health and Science newsletter

The latest health and science updates, breakthroughs, research, and the best in investigative and informative journalism.

You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.