Published: Fri, July 27, 2018
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

Mars to come closest to Earth in 15 years

Mars to come closest to Earth in 15 years

Astronomers have revealed that Mars will be within a close range of our planet Earth on July 25 - fifteen years after its closest brush with Earth.

"The reason Mars is becoming so bright is the fact that we are approaching Mars' opposition; this is the time when Earth will be directly between the planet and the sun", said AccuWeather Astronomy Blogger Dave Samuhel.

NASA's MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) spacecraft has found a new type of Martian aurora that occurs over much of the day side of the planet.

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.

Rain and thunderstorms will also lead to poor viewing conditions across a swath of the central U.S.

Although it's still early to forecast, a large-scale weather pattern could bring clouds over the eastern states next week, as a southward plunge of the jet stream generates showers and thunderstorms, says meteorologist Chris Dolce.

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

In 2018, Mars will appear brightest from July 27 to July 30.

"It hasn't been this close since 2003 and won't be again until 2287", said Kelly.

The Red Planet will be just 35.8 million miles away from humanity's homeworld next Tuesday.

A massive dust storm at Mars, however, is obscuring normally visible surface details. "Not quite as bright as Venus, but still because of the reddish, orange-ish-red color, you really can't miss it in the sky". Back in 2003, Mars had come close to our planet and that was an event in which the Red Planet was that close after 60,000 years. On Mars, they can happen anywhere, and in large areas, said NASA. 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.

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. It also coincides with the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century, which will last 1 hour, 43 minutes. North America is the only continent on Earth from which the eclipse will not be visible.

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