Science

Mars opposition: Red Planet set for wonderful close encounter with Earth

Mars opposition: Red Planet set for wonderful close encounter with Earth

What makes it very unique is that, in addition to getting Mars closer to Earth, it will also bring the red planet to the closest point to the sun in its orbit within a few weeks of the opposition.

Mars will look brighter in the night sky over the next six weeks than it has appeared in 15 years.

According to The Weather Channel, July 31 will be the peak of Mars' brightness.

This year the two planets won't get quite as cozy. Mars will be brightest on July 31, and it will be around 35.8 million away from the Earth.

"So sometimes the two planets are on opposite sides of the sun, very far apart, and other times, Earth catches up with its neighbour and passes relatively close to it".

During opposition, Mars is especially photogenic because it can be seen fully illuminated by the Sun as viewed from Earth.

"It has blocked out so much sunlight, it has effectively turned day into night for Opportunity, which is located near the center of the storm, inside Mars' Perseverance Valley".




The next time Mars comes this close to Earth will be in March 2035. Space lovers will be able to see Mars throughout July as it will be visible to the naked eye.

"Since Mars and the Sun appear on opposite sides of the sky, we say that Mars is in "opposition"," NASA explained.

The planet looks bigger and brighter because she is now much closer to us than over the past 15 years. "In fact, you will be hard pressed to miss it. Only Venus is a brighter star-like object (and it will be visible in the western sky at the same time)". This storm managed to cover 10 billion acres of the surface of Mars, which is one quarter of the planet.

If the planets had perfectly stable orbits, then a perihelic opposition would bring the planets as close as they could possibly come to each other. This is the shortest Earth-Mars distance since 2003.

In just over a month, the Martian approach will let sky gazers see the planet with the naked eye.

Additionally, other factors contribute to the changes as well.

Nasa added: "During opposition, Mars and the sun are on directly opposite sides of Earth".


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