Early in the morning, Mars is approaching Earth since 2003 – but if you've missed it, the Red Planet is still a great sight in the night sky. Humanity will have to wait 269 years for Mars to move closer, NASA says.
At 3:50 pm EDT (0750 GMT), Mars reached its orbiting point to Earth in its orbit. The Red Planet has not been so close to Earth since August 2003. (And when this last approach took place, it was the first time in 60,000 years that Mars had come so close.) This event follows the Mars event last week: On Friday (July 27), the Red Planet reached resistance to the Sun and stayed until Monday evening and this morning (July 31st) brightest in the night sky. [Mars at Opposition 201
According to NASA, this morning Mars was 35.8 million miles (57.6 million kilometers) from Earth. In August 2003, Mars was closer to a smaller point: 34.6 million miles (55.6 million kilometers). According to a NASA update, Mars will not be that close to Earth until 2287. Mars will regain resistance before. By October 2020, the Red Planet will reach the opposition and, according to the NASA update, will be 38.6 million miles (62.1 million kilometers) from Earth.
Today you can see Mars with a view of the southwestern sky. If the weather permits, Mars will be visible on the southwestern horizon, with the moon shining in the upper left corner. Saturn also becomes visible as shown in the map below.
If you missed it, you would not believe it any crazy stories you might hear size. Mars was not as big as the moon in the night sky – not even close; This story is a joke that pops up every year. In reality, on Mars's approach, the Moon still appeared 75 times larger than the Red Planet, while Mars appeared as an extremely bright, star-like object visible for much of the night. But if you overslept the whole event, do not worry! Mars will be especially bright and closed tonight, so look up!
You can even review some of the views from the nearest point of Mars in a webcast that filmed the event live from the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.
You can watch the webcast hosted by Laura Danly online again. In the video you can see telescopic images of the Red Planet, conversations between scientists as they watch the night sky, and guest appearances by a number of people, including Star Trek: Voyager actor Tim Russ and former NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Aldrin is an active proponent of humanity who is advancing further out into the Solar System, landing a manned mission on Mars. In fact, Aldrin passionately spoke in the webcast about a future hope to return first to the moon and then to Mars.
"We should set up occupancy on the moon," Aldrin said in a live video about the Earth satellite he had once kicked. He continued, saying, "We must occupy the moon as we prepare for these lessons to land and stay on Mars."
Aldrin added that achieving these ambitious goals requires innovation and he hopes he will "inspire the next generation," to take those massive steps.
At its closest approach, Mars shone with a magnitude of minus 2.8, which is twice as bright as Jupiter, but darker than Venus (lower magnitudes mean it looks brighter). In fact, Mars will stay brighter in the sky until the 7th of September than Jupiter.
Mars will weaken in mid-August as the two planets circle around the sun. As long as the night sky does not stay so bright, it will be brilliant long enough for anyone to see it.
Saturn is approaching Earth this summer too, and the ringed planet remains particularly visible to anyone who searches the sky for the best sights.
If you've missed Mars's closest approach, you can still see the planet bright tonight, with friends at an ad party, online or even in a mobile app. If you can not wait for Mars to make an exceptionally close rapprochement with Earth, the next near approach for the Red Planet will be on October 6, 2020.