JUL 24, 2018 05:31 PM PDT

Mars is About to Make its Closest Approach to Earth in 15 Years

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

If you look up into the night sky from July 27th to July 31st, then you might see what appears to be an ultra-luminous star. But we warned – that’s not really a star.

The incredibly luminous object that you’re about to see is actually Mars, and according to NASA, it will be making its closest approach to Earth in 15 years on Tuesday, July 31st.

A close-up of the Martian surface.

Image Credit: NASA

At the time of closest approach, Mars will be a mere 35.8 million miles away from our planet, providing stargazers with an extraordinary view. Mars should remain visible in the night sky for several months, but it will shrink after mid-August as the red planet moves further away from Earth in its orbit around the Sun.

On the other hand, telescope-based observations probably won’t be as impressive this time around as those made in previous years. A planet-wide dust storm currently envelops the entire Martian surface, and it’s expected to obscure the view and make it more challenging to discern features on Mars’ surface.

But it’s not all bad. Those without telescopes should notice that Mars will be much brighter than usual; this is because all the airborne dust is reflecting excess sunlight.

Related: Infographic: how close are we to colonizing Mars?

Citing NASA, the best time to view Mars will be several hours after sunset, when the planet is highest in the night sky. A good rule of thumb is to wait until midnight for optimal viewing conditions.

Assuming you don’t get to look at Mars during its closest approach to Earth this year, you’ll get another chance in October of 2020, which is when Mars will make its next closest approach.

Will you be gazing at Mars in the night sky next week?

Source: NASA, YouTube

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
DEC 08, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 08, 2019
Watch SpaceX Launch a Used Falcon 9 for the Third and Final Time
SpaceX launched one of its tried and true Falcon 9 rockets on Tuesday in a mission that the commercial space company dubbed AMOS-17. The rocket’s nin...
DEC 08, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 08, 2019
What Can the Moon's Craters Tell Us?
The Moon is littered with craters, and each one tells an important story about its past. Some of those craters are large, but others are somewhat small. Th...
DEC 08, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 08, 2019
India's Chandrayaan-2 Lunar Mission Has Gone Terribly Wrong
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) launched a particularly important mission dubbed Chandrayaan-2 on July 22nd. Its long-term goal was to study...
DEC 08, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 08, 2019
Here's Why NASA Wants to Learn More About Metallic Asteroids
NASA’s Psyche mission will investigate the properties of a unique metallic asteroid residing between Mars and Jupiter as it orbits the Sun. It’...
DEC 08, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 08, 2019
How the Rosetta Mission Augmented Our Understanding of Comets
The European Space Agency (ESA) launched its Rosetta mission in 2004 to study the particularly captivating comet 67P, and after a ten-year journey, the mis...
DEC 08, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 08, 2019
SpaceX's Starship Will Be a Game Changer for Deep Space
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve undoubtedly caught wind about SpaceX’s ambitious Starship project. Starship is still very...
Loading Comments...