This Weekend Offers A Chance To See Mars Up Close


Now is the time to catch Mars in the night sky. Astronomers say we should be able to see it throughout early August.

During the month of July, Earth and Mars have been getting increasingly closer to one another and will be at their closest point since 2003 beginning this Friday, July 27.

Of course, you will get the best look at the close approach through a telescope, but if you don't have one and you want to see the planet closer up, then it could be worth contacting your local planetarium or astronomy centre to see if they're holding any special events for it.

The blood moon will be the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century and will occur just after 9pm United Kingdom time on Friday July 27. Mars will be a "mere" 36 million miles from Earth, according to NASA, before both planets travel farther away from each other as they orbit the sun.

It's an exciting few days for space watchers as Mars will be coming the closest it's been to Earth for 15 years.

"In this case it's going to appear about five times brighter than usual", added Kelly. On July 31, the planets will be 35.8 million miles apart.

According to AccuWeather, Mars is now engulfed in a massive dust storm, obscuring the planetary features.

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.

"It's magnificent. It's as bright as an airplane landing light", Widener University astronomer Harry Augensen tells The Associated Press.

In 2003, Mars and Earth were the closest in almost 60,000 years - 34.6 million miles. "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". NASA said that won't happen again until 2287. The best viewing of the planet will coincide with the lunar eclipse on Friday, July 27.

If you miss the Mars Close Approach next month, the next approach will be October 6, 2020. Observatories across the US are hosting Mars-viewing events next week.

The total lunar eclipse on Friday will be visible in Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe and South America.