Published: Thu, August 02, 2018
Sci-tech | By Eric Barnett

On Tuesday Mars will Make its Closest Approach to Earth Since 2003

On Tuesday Mars will Make its Closest Approach to Earth Since 2003

There's plenty of summer left and the night sky is dark enough for star hunting by 10 p.m.

During opposition, Mars is especially photogenic because it can be seen fully illuminated by the Sun as viewed from Earth. The red planet will appear at its brightest since 2003, when Mars made its closest approach to Earth in nearly 60,000 years.

The red planet won't be this close again till September 15, 2035. If Earth and Mars are to follow perfectly circular orbits, the opposition would get close to each other as the two planets could get. But with a sulfuric-acid atmosphere and a surface temperature besting 800 degrees Fahrenheit (the hottest in the Solar System, even though Mercury is closer to the sun), Venus is not a viable option for human exploration. Find that orangey-red circle in the sky that looks bigger and brighter than usual.

Surface features on Mars suggest that the planet was once warmer and wetter eons ago, but research from spacecraft on and around Mars in recent years have shown that much of the planet's atmosphere and its moisture were lost to space in ancient times.

This is an artist's model of an early Mars - billions of years ago - which may have had oceans and a thicker atmosphere. Check out this quick guide to help you get more out of your night sky photos.

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In fact, on July 31, Mars will be at its absolute closest to earth, at just under 36.8 million miles. Right now, at this very moment, Mars is closer to Earth than it will be for a long, long time. In October 2020, the Red Planet will reaches opposition and will be 38.6 million miles (62.1 million km) from Earth, according to NASA's update.

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"If it's cloudy, we can not really use our telescopes to look at Mars".

Another close encounter like 2003´s will not happen until the year 2287. This is the nearest that Mars has come (57.6 million kilometers to earth) since its record-breaking close approach in August 28, 2003.

Hubble was used to observe the planet on 6 June 2018, when Saturn was at a distance of approximately 1.36 billion kilometers from Earth, is one of the smallest of the distances between the planets.

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