Published: Thu, July 26, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Mars close approach: Get a look at the red planet

Mars close approach: Get a look at the red planet

This Friday, July 27, 2018, Mars will be brighter in the night sky than it has been in 15 years due to an astronomical event called opposition, which occurs when Earth passes directly between the sun and the red planet, or when Mars is directly opposite the sun in our sky. Back in 2003, Mars had come close to our planet and that was an event in which the Red Planet was that close after 60,000 years.

The two planets will be just 35.8 million miles (57.6 million kilometers) apart next Tuesday. And on Friday, Mars will be in opposition.

"Since Mars and the Sun appear on opposite sides of the sky, we say that Mars is in "opposition", NASA explained.

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. Astronomers expect good viewing through early August.

Hubble, one of the largest space telescopes, captured images of dust storms on the Red Planet this summer.

The planet's close encounter in 2003 made headlines as it was the closest Mars came to Earth in almost 60,000 years, sparking rumors that it would appear as large as the moon. 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.

Astronomers predict that the Mars will come close to the Earth in 5 years

This means you can see it with the naked eye. The next approach is on Oct 6, 2020.

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.

"It's magnificent. It's as bright as an airplane landing light", Widener University astronomer Harry Augensen tells The Associated Press. Observatories across the USA are hosting Mars-viewing events next week.

"It will appear to be a very bright orange star and you'll be able to watch it creep across the sky", said Kelly. The planets aren't expected to be that close again until 2287, according to NASA.

The total lunar eclipse on Friday will be visible in Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe and South America.

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