Red Planet comes closer to Earth than since 2003 and Neanderthal Age

Mars to Shine Brighter Than It Has in 15 Years

Mars is shining at its brightest in years - look for the bright red "star" in the night sky - and will soon make its closest approach to Earth since 2003.

Mars will still be 35.8 million miles away though, so there's certainly no danger of it bumping into us. But Mars won't be as close as it was in 2003 until 2287.

Then, on 31 July, the Mars close approach will happen, so this will be your best chance to take a look!

In 2003, Mars and Earth were at their closest in almost 60,000 years, coming within 34.6 million miles of each other.

The gravitational pull by other planets also constantly changes the shape of their orbits a little bit, with Jupiter especially influencing the path that Mars takes around the Sun. The best viewing of the planet will coincide with the lunar eclipse on Friday, July 27.

When a close approach happens, a rumour often flies around that Mars will look as big as the Moon in the night sky, but this isn't true!

Astronomers predict that the Mars will come close to the Earth in 5 years
Mars making closest approach to Earth in 15 years

Starting Friday night, 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.

For Powell River residents seeking to view the planet from the comfort of their own homes, there is no need to go to a particularly dark place or use a telescope to see it. Mars will appear on the horizon at around 9:30 pm each evening, starting in the southeast at the bottom right in relation to the moon, and rise throughout the night.

This means you can see it with the naked eye. The sun, moon and Venus are usually the top three brightest objects.

Viewing the planets will require no protection, and are easily seen in a telescope, binoculars or with the unaided eye, Higgins added.

A massive dust storm that has engulfed the planet will make viewing surface details more hard than it typically would be for those using a telescope, but the dust also reflects the sun's light better, making the planet appear all that much brighter.

Nasa has said that there is now a dust storm which is affecting the whole planet, so this may make seeing details on Mars a little more hard for astronomers. It willl only be visible to some parts of the world, including Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe and South America.



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