Mars Making Closest Approach to Earth in 15 Years

Jul 28, 2018, 08:00
Mars Making Closest Approach to Earth in 15 Years

The next Mars close approach is October 6, 2020, NASA says. Mars and Earth will be about 57.6 million km away from each other on July 27. The closest it ever comes to Earth is 33.9 million miles.

As Mars draws near, it will grow brighter and appear larger.

This and the 60,000-year gap statement are true, according to the agency, but they represent "a bit of hype" as Mars and Earth have been nearly this close many times in recent history.

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

The gravitational pull by other planets also constantly changes the shape of their orbits a little bit, with Jupiter especially influencing the path that Mars takes around the Sun. Although 15 years might not sound like a particularly long time to some, H.R. MacMillan Space Centre astronomer Kat Kelly assures it will be a once-in-a-lifetime viewing opportunity for many based on the next time the two planets will be this close to one another.

The cosmic coincidence which will see the 'God of War ' planet Mars shine in the sky during an eclipse has already got doomsday fans buzzing, but we're glad to report that it probably doesn't mean the apocalypse is nigh.

Mars' orbit has been getting closer to the Earth's, leading to great visibility for the end of July.

Mars will be visible to the naked eye for most of the night.

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. "Not quite as bright as Venus, but still because of the reddish, orange-ish-red color, you really can't miss it in the sky".

That same day, parts of the world will see a total lunar eclipse called a blood moon, which could make the lunar surface look like it's been stained red. Viewers in the USA will not be able to see the lunar eclipse.

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.

This won't happen again until 2287, Nasa has predicted.