Mars to come closest to Earth in 15 years

Mars to come closest to Earth in 15 years

Mars to come closest to Earth in 15 years

NASA found out that the skies over Mars put up quite a show for at least half of the planet, but it's a show very hard to observe. Mars Close Approach is exactly what it seems: the point in Mars' orbit around the sun when it comes closest to Earth.

On July 31, Mars will be 35.8 million miles away. "The astronomical term for this is called opposition, and this is the best time to see Mars in a telescope".

NASA's MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) spacecraft has found a new type of Martian aurora that occurs over much of the day side of the planet.

Mars is already brighter than usual and will shine even more- and appear bigger - as Tuesday approaches.

However, there is a global dust storm obscuring the red planet that could continue through August and into September.

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.

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The size of the red planet hasn't actually changed, but where it is in its orbit has lessened the distance between it and Earth, making it appear bigger to us Earthlings as it gets closer.

The next Mars close approach is on 6 October 2020 when the planet will be 38.6 million miles away. This is why you will often see Mars missions launching every two years.

It's an exciting few days for space watchers as Mars will be coming the closest it's been to Earth for 15 years.

"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. "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".

Here's what you need to know about the red planet's approach next week. 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. NASA says an approach that close won't happen again until 2287. Areas from the Plains to the West would have the best view of Mars as it passes Earth. North America is the only continent on Earth from which the eclipse will not be visible.

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