Mars makes closest approach to Earth in 15 years this weekend

Mars makes closest approach to Earth in 15 years this weekend

Mars will soon appear brighter than normal, and make its closest approach to Earth in the last 15 years.

The minimum distance between the planets is about 33.9 million miles, according to NASA.

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. Astronomers say we should be able to see it throughout early August.

"Mars and Earth come into alignment about every two years when they are both on the same side of the sun, which causes Earth and Mars to be closer to each other", said Higgins.

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

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. Areas from the Plains to the West would have the best view of Mars as it passes Earth.

On July 27, Mars will be in perihelic opposition, reported on Sunday.

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The two planets will be just 35.8 million miles (57.6 million km) apart next Tuesday.

"It's magnificent. It's as bright as an airplane landing light", said Widener University astronomer Harry Augensen.

But some perihelic oppositions bring Earth and Mars closer together than others, the U.S. space agency said. "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".

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 made its closest approach to Earth in almost 60,000 years back in 2003, when its center was 34,646,418 miles from Earth's. Mars Close Approach is exactly what it seems: the point in Mars' orbit around the sun when it comes closest to Earth. The planets aren't expected to be that close again until 2287, according to NASA. The best viewing of the planet will coincide with the lunar eclipse on Friday, July 27.

Viewing the planets will require no protection, and are easily seen in a telescope, binoculars or with the unaided eye, Higgins added.

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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