Mars set to make closest approach to Earth in 15 years

Mars set to make closest approach to Earth in 15 years”

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

Mars' orbit has been getting closer to the Earth's, leading to great visibility for the end of July.

The cosmic coincidence which will see the 'God of War ' planet Mars shine in the sky during an eclipse has already got doomsday fans buzzing, but we're glad to report that it probably doesn't mean the apocalypse is nigh.

In 2003, the red planet came 34.8 million miles close to Earth, which was the closest it's been to us in 59,619 years. The sun, moon and Venus are usually the top three brightest objects.

On July 27, Mars will be in perihelic opposition, reported on Sunday. Its closest approach to Earth is July 31.

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. The rare event started on May 30 when scientists observed that a small storm was forming on Mars.

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. Mars will be at a distance of 35.8 million miles.

As Mars draws near, it will grow brighter and appear larger.

"It's magnificent. It's as bright as an airplane landing light", Augensen said. But every 15 to 17 years the opposition also occurs near Mars' perihelion, the point at which the red planet's orbit is closest to the sun, which makes it even brighter in the sky when viewed from Earth, according to NASA.

"It will appear to be a very bright orange star and you'll be able to watch it creep across the sky", said Kelly.

This year, Mars opposition will occur on July 27, according to NASA. North America is the only continent on Earth from which the eclipse will not be visible.

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