Paired retrograde: Saturn and Mars in 2016

By: Tunc Tezel


Region: Middle East

Country: Turkey

Date: 2015 Dec - 2016 Sep

Comments: 5

From the photographer: "Mars and Saturn spent most of the year 2016 close to each other north of bright star Antares in Scorpius. Mars was in opposition in late May shining at magnitude -2. Saturn's own opposition was in early June, as the ringed planet shone as bright as magnitude 0. Here Saturn and Mars can be seen in retrograde motion together in eastern Libra, Scorpius and Ophiuchus. Photography started on 2015 December 15 and the last frame is from 2016 November 21."
See the resulted image of this sequence. It traces the planets movements just north of bright star Antares in Scorpius. Saturn's apparent motion is back and forth along the flattened, compact loop, while Mars follows the wider S-shaped track from upper right to lower left through the frame. Mars and Saturn don't actually reverse direction in their orbits. Instead, their apparent backwards or retrograde motion with respect to the background stars is a reflection of the orbital motion of the Earth itself. Retrograde motion can be seen each time Earth overtakes and laps planets orbiting farther from the Sun, the Earth moving more rapidly through its own relatively close-in orbit.

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