Mars making closest approach to Earth in 15 years

by Edgar Hayes July 28, 2018, 8:02
Mars making closest approach to Earth in 15 years

NASA notes that many missions to Mars coincide with these close approaches.

The two planets will be just 35.8 million miles (57.6 million kilometers) apart next Tuesday. NASA notes that much has been made of the observation that the Neanderthals were the last before the 2003 approach to see Mars so favorably placed.

The phenomenon is called a Mars close approach, which is when the red planet and Earth come nearest to each other in their orbits around the Sun.

The message is that Mars will look as big as the moon in our night sky, which isn't the case.

The planet's closest approach to Earth occurred in 2003 when the two planets drew within 34.6 million miles, the closest approach in almost 60,000 years.

"An opposition can occur anywhere along Mars" orbit.

Here's what you need to know about the red planet's approach next week.

A massive dust storm is presently engulfing Mars, obscuring surface details normally visible through telescopes.

NASA found out that the skies over Mars put up quite a show for at least half of the planet, but it's a show very hard to observe.

Mars will be visible to the naked eye for most of the night. Only Venus will appear brighter.

A massive dust storm that has engulfed the planet will make viewing surface details more hard than it typically would be for those using a telescope, but the dust also reflects the sun's light better, making the planet appear all that much brighter.

Viewing the planets will require no protection, and are easily seen in a telescope, binoculars or with the unaided eye, Higgins added. Astronomers say we should be able to see it throughout early August. Mars Close Approach is exactly what it seems: the point in Mars' orbit around the sun when it comes closest to Earth. You can't miss it.

For the best views of Mars, you'll want to wait until after midnight - or closer to 1 a.m. - when the planet is at its maximum height in the sky. For some, that means a chance to see a total lunar eclipse - the longest of the 21st century, but the eclipse won't be visible from the United States.

Nasa has said that there is now a dust storm which is affecting the whole planet, so this may make seeing details on Mars a little more hard for astronomers.


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