Published: Wed, August 01, 2018
Sci-tech | By April Francis

Mars makes its closest approach in 15 years

Mars makes its closest approach in 15 years

There is presently a planet-wide dust storm on Mars, a phenomenon that is said to occur when the planet is closest to the sun in its orbit.

In the 1898 science fiction novel War of the Worlds, the invading Martian forces bring a red weed with them that begins to kill off Earth's plant life to make the planet habitable for the Martians. Mars was only 35.8 million miles away from Earth. Mars will reach opposition again before then.

The minimum distance from the Earth to Mars is about 33.9 million miles (54.6 million kilometers), and is rarely achieved. Saturn will also be visible, as shown in the map below.

A map of the sky that shows Mars and Saturn, as they can be seen from NY on July 31 at 11 pm.

If you missed it, don't believe any insane stories you may hear about its apparent size.

NASA estimates the 2003 "opposition" was the closest approach by Mars in nearly 60,000 years.

When the planet reaches its closest distance from Earth later today, it allows stargazers to see it in its brightest form.

However, for all the space enthusiasts out there, you can still witness the phenomenon in all its glory as NASA's Griffith Observatory is hosting a live stream on YouTube. Yes, you can share in the excitement by watching online or at local star-viewing parties.

Earth's neighboring planet, Mars, is closer than it has been in the past 15 years, offering unusually bright views of the Red Planet's auburn hues. Technically, in solar system talk, they are.

Observatories across the U.S. are hosting Mars-viewing events.

For those who missed the closest approach, not to worry.

"This may be responsible for a string of bright clouds visible near the northern polar region that are the remnants of a disintegrating storm", NASA wrote. 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.

That's close, but it's no 2018 sighting.

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