Mars Close Approach: Here's what you'll see from Earth

Gwen Vasquez
July 27, 2018

During opposition, Mars is especially photogenic because it can be seen fully illuminated by the Sun as viewed from Earth.

NASA plans to release on Friday what scientists say will be stunning new images of Mars taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.

It should be relatively easy to spot Mars, as long as cloud cover is minimal.

Mars will remain visible in the night sky throughout the remainder of the summer and throughout the fall, but it will slowly become dimmer and dimmer toward the end of the year. The sun, moon and Venus are usually the top three brightest objects.

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 USA are hosting Mars-viewing events next week.

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

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

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. On that date, Mars will be in opposition, meaning the orbit of Earth and Mars will form a straight line with the sun.

Mars Close Approach: Here's what you'll see from Earth

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

A massive dust storm is presently engulfing Mars, obscuring surface details normally visible through telescopes.

"It's magnificent. It's as bright as an airplane landing light", Widener University astronomer Harry Augensen tells The Associated Press.

"It will appear to be a very bright orange star and you'll be able to watch it creep across the sky", said Kelly.

In 2003, the red planet came 34.8 million miles close to Earth, which was the closest it's been to us in 59,619 years.

This won't happen again until 2287, Nasa has predicted. In 1877, Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli claimed to have seen canals on Mars, suggesting there could be possible civilization, or Martians, on the red planet.

And on Friday, it will be in opposition, which means Mars and the sun will be on exact opposite sides of Earth. Demeter said the best time to view the planet is from 10:30 p.m. through midnight.

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