Heads up! Mars makes its closest, brightest approach in 15 years


It's a little brighter, not only because it happens to be closer, but Mars is also at its "opposition" - directly opposite the sun as seen from Earth.

Mars will be 57.6 million kilometres from Earth on Tuesday, hitting its highest point in the sky at about midnight.

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

But, when and where can I see it?

Earth takes roughly a year (or 365.25 days, to be exact) to complete a revolution around the sun, while Mars does it in 1.88 years (approximately 687 days). Using the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution spacecraft (MAVEN), NASA was able to get a better understanding of what that atmosphere looks like.

And the next time Mars will be as close to Earth as it will be beginning July 31 is September 15, 2035.

Mars will be visible with a telescope or the naked eye by looking south, but it will not be as big as the moon as one urban legend says.

In the summer of this year there are worthy of the attention of astronomical events - the opposition of Saturn and then Mars to our planet.

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Cousin Opportunity is also drilling - it's a robot geologist looking at the possible history of Mars, including what effect water might have had on the landscape.

On the night of 31 July, Mars will be closest to the Earth in 15 years.

A celestial phenomenon of this sort is expected to occur again in the year 2287.

Mars is now enduring a particularly intense dust storm, which is one of thickest ever observed on Red Planet. Los Angeles' Griffith Observatory will provide a live online view of Mars early Tuesday.

NASA estimates the 2003 "opposition" was the closest approach by Mars in nearly 60,000 years. "It will be the brightest star in the night sky", Mr Nagle said.

This year's Mars comes closer to Earth approach is not a record-breaker.

Mars, the fourth planet from the Sun, will be 57.6 million kilometres from Earth on Tuesday, the closest it has been since 2003 when it came within 55.7 million kilometres, which was the nearest in almost 60,000 years. At nightfall Jupiter is shining brightly in the south-southwestern sky, and Saturn is just off to the lower left in the low south-southeast.