Mars closest to earth in 15 years today

Matt Damon in The Martian
Aidan Monaghan

Matt Damon in The Martian Credit Aidan Monaghan

The red planet is making its closest approach to Earth in 15 years on Tuesday. That means Mars and the sun were on exact opposite sides of Earth.

The MailOnline reported that Mars is already brighter than usual and will shine even more- and appear bigger - as Tuesday nears. So, all the space enthusiasts, who are keen to watch this phenomenon, you need not worry. Earth and Mars have oval shaped orbits, like all other planets. Humanity will have to wait 269 years for Mars to get much closer, NASA says.

Mars' approach to Earth was broadcast over the internet this morning from the LA-based Griffith Observatory.

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According to NASA, Mars is now quite close to us, as it reaches the part of its orbit called "opposition", where it's exactly opposite the Sun in the Earth's sky. When the planet reaches its closest distance from Earth later today, it allows stargazers to see it in its brightest form. Furthermore, if mankind somehow invented a way to squeeze the Carbon dioxide from all the material on Mars (that's essentially impossible), it would only boost the atmosphere to around 6.9 percent of Earth's.

July has been rather eventful for the skywatchers; first, a partial solar eclipse on July 13, then a lunar eclipse on July 27 and now Mars coming the closest it has to earth in 15 years on July 31. It is visible as a bright reddish orange spot in the sky. Add a telescope and you can see a detailed view of the planet's surface and its polar caps.

"Our results suggest that there is not enough Carbon dioxide remaining on Mars to provide significant greenhouse warming were the gas to be put into the atmosphere", said Dr Jakobsky from the University of Colorado and the lead author of the study, which was published in Nature Astronomy. A massive dust storm will engulf the Red planet.

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Observatories across the USA are hosting viewing events today to mark the occasion.

Cami said the advancing approach of Mars toward Earth typically happens about every 17 years, so we won't get another opportunity like this one until 2035.

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