Mars to come closest to Earth in 15 years next month

Mars to come closest to Earth in 15 years next month

"The end of July and early August mark one of those opportunities".

Alex Mak, associate director of UT Ritter Planetarium said, "Due to the orbit of Mars and Earth, Mars is really only well placed for observing from Earth for a month or two every two years or so".

Starting Friday night, Mars will be at "opposition", which occurs when the Earth lies directly between Mars and the sun, making the sun and Mars appear in opposite directions as viewed from the Earth.

This year, Mars opposition will occur on July 27, according to NASA. Our rocky neighbor Mars has auroras too, and NASA's MAVEN spacecraft just found a new type of Martian aurora that occurs over much of the day side of the Red Planet, where auroras are very hard to see.

Mars is shining at its brightest in years - look for the bright red "star" in the night sky - and will soon make its closest approach to Earth since 2003.

Mars will shine bright and look bigger between now and Tuesday. First, a solar wind proton approaches Mars at high speed and encounters a cloud of hydrogen surrounding the planet.

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Nasa has said that there is now a dust storm which is affecting the whole planet, so this may make seeing details on Mars a little more hard for astronomers. Mars will be at a distance of 35.8 million miles (57.6 million kilometers).

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.

"The answer was thievery", said Justin Deighan, of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado, Boulder, lead author of a paper on this research appearing July 23 in Nature Astronomy.

In 2003, the red planet came 34.8 million miles close to Earth, which was the closest it's been to us in 59,619 years. You can't miss it.

This won't happen again until 2287, Nasa has predicted. It also coincides with the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century, which will last 1 hour, 43 minutes. Areas from the Plains to the West would have the best view of Mars as it passes Earth.

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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