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NASA: Mars easy to spot on clear April nights

This photo from NASA depicts the opposition of Mars, which is when the sun, Earth and Mars line up in a nearly straight line. (NASA)

April 8, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
If you look up into the sky Tuesday night, you're going to be in for a treat. The sun, Earth and Mars are lining up in a nearly straight line in what's known as the opposition of Mars.

Mars and the sun will be on the direct opposite sides of the Earth. Mars will rise in the east after sunset and set in the west Wednesday morning. It will appear orange and nearly 10 times brighter than any stars.

Mars oppositions happen about every 26 months.

You will get another good view of Mars on Monday, April 14, when the red planet is closest to Earth. Scientists say on the date of closest approach, there will also be a total lunar eclipse; the full moon of April 14-15 will turn as red as Mars itself.

NASA says any clear night in the month of April is a good time to see Mars, but those two dates are the easiest to spot the planet.