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Published: Wed, August 01, 2018
Research | By Jennifer Evans

Mars closest to earth in 15 years today

Mars closest to earth in 15 years today

Mars will be the closest to the Earth in 15 years on the night of 31st July, 2018.

That is the point in Mars' orbit when it comes closest to Earth.

July has been rather eventful for the skywatchers; first, a partial solar eclipse on July 13, then a lunar eclipse on July 27 and now Mars coming the closest it has to earth in 15 years on July 31.

Another close encounter like 2003´s will not happen until the year 2287.

The next close approach between two planets will be 62 million kilometres in 2020, as per NASA.

NASA has captured many images of the planet-wide dust storm that has been affecting Mars since June this year.

Mars comes at opposition at an average interval of two years and two months when the planet comes close to the Earth and becomes brighter, the Ministry of Earth Science said in a statement.

As for novice astronomers who might be a little bummed they missed the 3:50 a.m. wake up call, NASA streamed Mars' close encounter with Earth live from the Griffith Observatory.

If you're having a good look out of the window you need to look to the southwestern sky and it should be visible low on the southwestern horizon with the moon shining to the upper left, according to Space.com.

"We should establish an occupancy on the moon", Aldrin said in the live video about Earth's satellite that he once stepped foot on.

Observatories across the USA are hosting Mars-viewing events this week.

At its closest approach, Mars shone at a magnitude of minus 2.8, which is twice as bright as Jupiter but dimmer than Venus (lower magnitudes mean it looks brighter).

After sunset, the planet will appear especially bright and should be relatively easy to spot (providing the clouds stay away) thanks to its orange-red hue.

Starting today, Mars will also appear to shrink in size to observers due to the goring distance between Earth and the Red Planet. So, while it won't remain this bright in the night sky for long, it will be brilliant long enough for everyone to take a look.

There will be something very cool to see in the sky tonight.

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