Published: Fri, July 27, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

Mars to come closest to Earth in 15 years next month

Mars to come closest to Earth in 15 years next month

Every time you see Mars in the sky in the weeks ahead, NASA advises, "remember how much data scientists are gathering to better understand the mysterious weather of the Red Planet".

And on July 31, Mars will be at its closest approach to Earth in both their orbits around the sun.

Mars will reach opposition on July 27. NASA's Martian probes are now watching one unfold over the Red Planet. And on Friday, Mars will be in opposition.

"The reason Mars is becoming so bright is the fact that we are approaching Mars' opposition; this is the time when Earth will be directly between the planet and the sun", said AccuWeather Astronomy Blogger Dave Samuhel.

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The Red Planet will be just 35.8 million miles away from humanity's homeworld next Tuesday.

However, the planet will appear around the same brightness on the night of opposition and the night that it is making its closest approach to Earth.

Then, on 31 July, the Mars close approach will happen, so this will be your best chance to take a look!

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

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For Powell River residents seeking to view the planet from the comfort of their own homes, there is no need to go to a particularly dark place or use a telescope to see it. Mars will appear on the horizon at around 9:30 pm each evening, starting in the southeast at the bottom right in relation to the moon, and rise throughout the night. The next close approach, in 2020, will be 38.6 million miles (62 million km), according to NASA.

"It's magnificent. It's as bright as an airplane landing light", said Widener University astronomer Harry Augensen. Now, the MAVEN team has learned that protons were doing at Mars the same thing as electrons usually do at Earth-create aurora. You can't miss it. Mars made its closest approach to Earth in almost 60,000 years back in 2003, when its center was 34,646,418 miles from Earth's. NASA said that won't happen again until 2287. It also coincides with the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century, which will last 1 hour, 43 minutes. Observatories across the US are hosting Mars-viewing events next week.

While the blood moon eclipse will not be visible from North America, it will visible across much of Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia, weather permitting.

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Essentially, the Earth will pass between the Sun and the moon, casting a shadow on the latter and forming a total eclipse . Then the Moon will start to gradually come out of Earth's shadow and partial eclipse will end at 3:49 am IST on July 28.

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