Mars Will Be Close To Earth On July 31

Matt Damon in The Martian
Credit
Aidan Monaghan

The Red Planet hasn't been this close to us - a mere 54.6 million kilometres away - since 2003, and its orbit won't bring it this close again for another 15 years or so.

Terraforming or creating a habitable environment on Mars, that would allow humans to explore it without life support, is still a far-fetched dream, say scientists who found that existing technologies are incapable of forming an Earth-like atmosphere on the red planet. On August 27, 2003, Mars was just 34.6 million miles from the Earth - the nearest it had been in 60,000 years.

The local stargazers are invited for a camp to witness the Red Planet from 7 pm to 10 pm tonight at the Colombo Campus grounds.

Surface features on Mars suggest that the planet was once warmer and wetter eons ago, but research from spacecraft on and around Mars in recent years have shown that much of the planet's atmosphere and its moisture were lost to space in ancient times. Meanwhile the very bright planet Venus pops up in the very low western sky in the evening twilight, but sets shortly thereafter.

It's a little brighter, not only because it happens to be closer, but Mars is also at its "opposition" - directly opposite the sun as seen from Earth. We are talking about a distance of 57.6 million kilometers. Earth and Mars will be just 35.8 million miles apart this Tuesday.

You won't be able to see them, especially because of a "planet-encircling dust event" going on right now, but there are two NASA rovers on Mars.

In this image from Hubble's visible so-called classical ring of Saturn, which were the first recorded explorers of the planet, reports the online edition of the Chronicle.info with reference for a New time.

To observe this planet will become possible with the naked eye.

But also, "around the time of opposition, a planet is at its closest distance to Earth for a given year", the U.S. space agency explained. You can also look through a telescope. After rising, it stays up in the sky the entire night and starts setting in the west at a time when the sun rises in the east.

Mars will be the bright reddish star below the moon, near the horizon.

If weather is bad where you are, NASA will be streaming live from the Griffith Observatory.

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