Get rare look at ‘red planet’ Friday during specia...

Get rare look at ‘red planet’ Friday during special Star Party at MTSU

MTSU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy will be giving the public a chance to get a closer look at Mars and other planets during “opposition” on Friday, July 27, for this month’s Star Party event.

From 8 to 11 p.m. Friday, the public can view Mars, Saturn, Jupiter and the moon at the MTSU Observatory to witness the start of Mars’ closest approach to Earth since 2003, organizers said.

Dr. Chuck Higgins will lead the event, and other MTSU astronomers and students will be on hand to answer questions and guide the viewing.

Dr. Chuck Higgins, associate professor, Physics and Astronomy

Dr. Chuck Higgins

“Mars and Earth come into alignment about every two years when they are both on the same side of the sun, which causes Earth and Mars to be closer to each other,” said Higgins. “The astronomical term for this is called ‘opposition,’ and this is the best time to see Mars in a telescope.”

Viewing the planets will require no eye protection, and they are easily seen in a telescope, binoculars or with the unaided eye, Higgins added.

MTSU’s Friday Star Parties have been engaging the campus and surrounding community in Department of Physics and Astronomy activities, specifically topics dealing with astronomy, since 1999. These activities may include guest speakers, followed by telescope viewing outside at the MTSU Observatory as weather permits.

The events are always free and open to the public. To find free parking after 6 p.m. around the MTSU Observatory, visit

The rain date is Saturday, July 28, at the same time.

For more information, visit or contact Higgins at 615-898-5946.

— Keundrea Simpson, student intern (

Mars Opposition 2018 Star Party graphic