Mars will be making closest approach to Earth in 15 years

Mars will be making closest approach to Earth in 15 years

In 2003 Mars came closest to Earth in 60,000 years and that made room for rumors that we would have two moons in the sky.

The over 600-mile-long (1,000-kilometer) Medusae Fossae Formation near Mars' equator traces its origins to long-ago volcanic activity.

Mars Close Approach takes place about every 26 months, but since Earth and Mars don't have perfectly circular orbits, the shortest distance between the planets isn't always the same for each close approach. On July 31, the planets will be 35.8 million miles apart.

They line up again at the same distance in 2287.

If you miss the Mars Close Approach next month, the next approach will be October 6, 2020.

So what's the big deal about the close approach?

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.

Space Close Mars
NASA via AP

Of course, you will get the best look at the close approach through a telescope, but if you don't have one and you want to see the planet closer up, then it could be worth contacting your local planetarium or astronomy centre to see if they're holding any special events for it.

NASA has discovered a new type of aurora lighting up the skies over Mars - but, as they spring up over the planet's day side, they'd be quite hard to see.

Demeter said the events are free and open to the public.

Here is a tip to make it easier to spot Mars in the sky: it will rise on the southeast around sunset, it will slowly cross the sky throughout the night and it will set in the southwest around sunrise. As of Tuesday, Demeter said they're expecting partly cloudy skies Friday and Saturday, but he said the clouds tend to clear up later into the night.

"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".

The red planet comes close enough for viewing only once or twice every 15 or 17 years. Mars will be visible with the naked eye. Don't worry if you don't have a telescope. 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.

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