Mars to come closest to Earth in 15 years

Mars making closest approach to Earth in 15 years

"From its retrograde motion in the sky and its blood red color to the question of whether Mars has or had life, it is a planet that has never failed to make us wonder". The Sun ejects protons at speeds up to two million miles per hour (more than 3 million kilometers per hour) in an erratic flow called the solar wind.

"Mars wouldn't be almost this dusty if it wasn't for this one enormous deposit that is gradually eroding over time and polluting the planet, essentially", said study co-author Kevin Lewis from Johns Hopkins University. Looking further, it's likely that many planets orbiting other stars have the same favorable conditions, and would be likely to have proton auroras too.

Mars is already brighter than usual and will shine even more- and appear bigger - as Tuesday approaches. "The end of July and early August mark one of those opportunities".

According to AccuWeather, Mars is now engulfed in a massive dust storm, obscuring the planetary features.

Alex Mak, associate director of UT Ritter Planetarium said, "Due to the orbit of Mars and Earth, Mars is really only well placed for observing from Earth for a month or two every two years or so".

For Powell River residents seeking to view the planet from the comfort of their own homes, there is no need to go to a particularly dark place or use a telescope to see it. Mars will appear on the horizon at around 9:30 pm each evening, starting in the southeast at the bottom right in relation to the moon, and rise throughout the night.

If you miss the Mars Close Approach next month, the next approach will be October 6, 2020. The release of the photos coincides with the planet's close approach to Earth.

"It's magnificent. It's as bright as an airplane landing light", Widener University astronomer Harry Augensen tells The Associated Press. But Mars won't be as close as it was in 2003 until 2287. This weekend the red planet will be closer, larger and brighter than it has been in 15 years. Experts advise taking long continuous views of Mars through your telescope - at least five to 10 minutes at a time - to give your eye a chance to adjust to the light level in the eyepiece. It willl only be visible to some parts of the world, including Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe and South America.

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