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 Animation showing the path of Mars during the 2005-6 apparition

Ares in Aries The path of Mars against the background stars of The Ram from late 2005 into early 2006, shown at 15-day intervals. On this occasion the planet did not perform a typical 'loop' movement, but a 'zig-zag' - the result of Mars crossing the ecliptic (the plane of the Earth's orbit) from South to North. The size of Mars in this diagram represents the changing apparent size of its disk as seen from Earth (the size of Mars shown here is greatly exaggerated). Mars reached opposition on November 7th 2005 (at the centre of the zig-zag, where the planet appears largest). The Sun traverses this section of the ecliptic from about April 20th to May 23rd, moving from West to East (i.e. right to left in the diagram).

Copyright  Martin J Powell  November 2005