What is the retrograde of Mars?
According to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Mars has been slowly moving toward the east this year. This is typical for Mars, however, at the end of October, Mars appears to reverse its course. Over the next three months, from November to late January, Mars moves toward the west each night. This is known as the retrograde motion of Mars. Near the end of January, it reverses direction again, and continues its eastward journey.
This happens about every two years and it really threw early observers for a loop! Even today, it garners a lot of attention from sky gazers and astrologists. Mercury's retrograde is the most noted/notorious of the planets, but many astrology fans believe the retrograde of planets can impact mood, energy and actions.
Why is the Mars retrograde happening?
Earth and Mars are on these roughly circular paths around the Sun, like cars on a racetrack. Earth is on the inner, faster track. About every 26 months, we overtake Mars, which is moving slower in its orbit. During that period when we're passing Mars, and before we round the bend in our orbit to pull away from it, we see Mars in retrograde, appearing to change direction, even though it's still moving forward in its own orbit.
So take note of Mars over the next few months, as it appears to reverse course. Note how its position changes with respect to Betelgeuse, Aldebaran and the Pleiades over the weeks, and you'll be witnessing what was once a source of intense curiosity for astronomers, but which we now know is just a sign of two planets passing in the night.
You can find more information here: What's Up For October
This article was written by Katie McGraw for WEWS.