Sci-tech

Mars to come closest to Earth in 15 years

Mars to come closest to Earth in 15 years

The research team looked at the chemical composition of Mars dust using data collected by rovers and landers from different points across the Red Planet.

Every 15 or 17 years, opposition occurs within a few weeks of Mars' perihelion - the point in its orbit when it is closest to the Sun. CU Boulder astronomer Doug Duncan talked to Colorado Matters about how to spot the planet and why it'll be so visible from July 27-31.

Looking further, it's likely that many planets orbiting other stars have the same favorable conditions, and would be likely to have proton auroras too. Since 2003, an urban legend is circulated through email and social media every times Mars makes a close approach. 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.

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The next Mars close approach is on 6 October 2020 when the planet will be 38.6 million miles away.

"In this case it's going to appear about five times brighter than usual", added Kelly. The release of the photos coincides with the planet's close approach to Earth. On July 31, the planets will be 35.8 million miles apart.

The red planet is easily visible with the naked eye, but folks with a telescope may be able to see some details of the planet, including the planet's ice caps, according to AccuWeather.

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On Friday, 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.

If you've looked outside anytime after sunset recently, you've probably thought Mars looks a bit bigger than you remember it.

"It's magnificent. It's as bright as an airplane landing light", said Widener University astronomer Harry Augensen. 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. You can't miss it. On Mars, they are the result of protons, and scientists have just figured out how the events happen. On Mars, they can happen anywhere, and in large areas, said NASA. Demeter said the best time to view the planet is from 10:30 p.m. through midnight.

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