Mars has come calling and how! From October 6 onwards, the Red Planet will be closest to the Earth for the next 15 years. Mars will be closest to Earth, starting from October 6 until 2035.
According to NASA, this is the time when Mars’ orbit lies “at about 38.6 million miles (62.07 million kilometers) from our planet”. Mars will be visible through October, but will become fainter as Mars and Earth travel farther away from each other in their orbits around the Sun.
“October is a great time for viewing Mars, as the planet is visible all night right now, and reaches its highest point in the sky around midnight. This period of excellent visibility coincides with the event known as opposition, which occurs about every two years, when Mars is directly on the opposite side of Earth from the Sun. This is also around the time when Mars and Earth come closest together in their orbits, meaning the Red Planet is at its brightest in the sky, so don’t miss it,” NASA said in its What’s Up – October 2020 skywatching guide.
The last time Mars was close to the Earth was in in 2018, but in 2003, the planets made a historic approach. According to NASA, On August 27, 2003 at 9:51 Universal Time (the time in Greenwich, England, Mars came closer to Earth, at about 55,758,006 km (34,646,418 miles) from center to center. That was the nearest the two planets have been in almost 60,000 years.
Mars Close Approach occurs is when the Red Planet and the Earth come nearest to each other in their orbits around the sun. “The minimum distance from Earth to Mars is about 33.9 million miles (54.6 million kilometers). However, that doesn’t happen very often,” NASA said.
The next Mars Close Approach is Dec. 8, 2022, when the Red Planet will be only 38.6 million miles (62.07 million kilometers) from Earth. Taking advantage of the short trip-time will be NASA’s next mission to Mars, known as Mars Sample Return, a campaign to bring samples of Mars rocks and soil back to Earth, where they can be studied in detail.
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