Mars making closest approach to Earth in 15 years

Cristina Cross
July 28, 2018

Mars' orbit has been getting closer to the Earth's, leading to great visibility for the end of July. According to EarthSky.org, it will be appear almost as bright as it did in 2003, when it was closer to Earth than it had been in 60,000 years. The release of the photos coincides with the planet's close approach to Earth.

Of course, you can always step outside and check out the red planet with your naked eye.

"Mars and Earth come into alignment about every two years when they are both on the same side of the sun, which causes Earth and Mars to be closer to each other", said Higgins.

Viewing the planets will require no protection, and are easily seen in a telescope, binoculars or with the unaided eye, Higgins added. Mars will still be more visible than normal for a while, but will become fainter as it travels farther from Earth during the planets' orbits around the sun. The next approach is on Oct 6, 2020.

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

Mars will appear brightest from July 27 to July 30.

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Although it's still early to forecast, a large-scale weather pattern could bring clouds over the eastern states next week, as a southward plunge of the jet stream generates showers and thunderstorms, says weather.com meteorologist Chris Dolce.

Mars will still be 35.8 million miles away though, so there's certainly no danger of it bumping into us.

Well, since it means a shorter distance between Mars and Earth, you tend to see more missions to Mars take place in years that a close approach happens in because it means a shorter trip from Earth to the red planet.

"It will appear to be a very bright orange star and you'll be able to watch it creep across the sky", said Kelly.

However, there is a global dust storm obscuring the red planet that could continue through August and into September. It willl only be visible to some parts of the world, including Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe and South America.

The blood moon will be the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century and will occur just after 9pm United Kingdom time on Friday July 27. On Mars, they can happen anywhere, and in large areas, said NASA.

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