JUL 24, 2018 05:31 PM PDT

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

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
NOV 27, 2018
Space & Astronomy
NOV 27, 2018
Here's What Makes Mars So Challenging to Land On
Humankind has sent spacecraft to a plethora of worlds in our solar system, including asteroids, comets, moons, and planets. Of all, Mars has consistently p...
DEC 09, 2018
Space & Astronomy
DEC 09, 2018
After a Slight Delay, SpaceX's Christmas Delivery Arrives at the ISS
Three days after the official launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, a SpaceX Dragon capsule arrived at the International Space Station on Saturday with a sp...
DEC 18, 2018
Space & Astronomy
DEC 18, 2018
New Horizons Spacecraft 'Clear of Hazards' As it Approaches Ultima Thule
The Kuiper Belt is a vastly-unexplored region of the solar system filled with Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs), and NASA expects to learn more about these object...
DEC 28, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
DEC 28, 2018
What's a Dyson Sphere and How to Build One?
Proposed by physicist Freeman Dyson in 1960, a Dyson sphere is a speculative megastructure that harvests a star's energy by partially or completely sur...
JAN 07, 2019
Space & Astronomy
JAN 07, 2019
Chinese Rover Begins Scientific Exploration on Moon's 'Dark Side'
The Moon orbits the Earth just as the Earth orbits the Sun, but the Moon’s orbit is tidally-locked. In essence, this means that the Moon rotates once...
JAN 08, 2019
Space & Astronomy
JAN 08, 2019
NASA's TESS Spacecraft Detects its Third Exoplanet
NASA may have said goodbye to its Kepler Space Telescope at the end of October last year, but the American space agency continues its search for distant ex...
Loading Comments...