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Mars to come closest to Earth in 15 years

26 July 2018, 08:11 | Justin Tyler

Mars to come closest to Earth in 15 years

Mars to come closest to Earth in 15 years

According to information provided, Mars will be 57.6 million km away from the Earth on July 27 in a celestial event called Opposition - when the sun, Earth and any planet, in this case, Mars, align in a straight line. That means Mars and the sun will be on exact opposite sides of Earth.

Mars' next close approach is October 6, 2020.

If you've noticed a bright red light in the evening sky lately, you're actually not looking at a star, but at Mars.

It will reach its highest point around midnight on July 31 - about a third of the distance between the horizon and overhead.

Clouds will interfere with onlookers across the eastern United States on Thursday night and early Friday morning due to the wet weather pattern that has set up over the region. Observatories across the US are hosting Mars-viewing events next week. "The end of July and early August mark one of those opportunities".

Although Mars will be closer than normal, it will still only appear as a bright, red point of light in the sky and not as large as the moon, noted Accuweather.com, a reference to a hoax that made the rounds in 2003.

The scientists calculated how much of the formation has eroded over the course of 3 billion years and estimated that the quantity of dust on Mars is enough to form a global layer between 6.5 feet (2 meters) and 39 feet (12 meters) thick. Mars will be at a distance of 35.8 million miles.

A massive dust storm is presently engulfing Mars, obscuring surface details normally visible through telescopes. "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". The planets aren't expected to be that close again until 2287, according to NASA.

The next close approach will occur in 2020 when the Red Planet will be within 38.6 million miles.

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.

The Mars opposition falls just before the longest total lunar eclipse of the century, which will last 1 hour and 43 minutes.

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