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This Is The Last Chance To See Planet Mars Up Close

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On today July 31, Mars will be 35.8 million miles from Earth, the closest that it has been to Earth in 15 years. This means the planet will be visible to the naked eye, sporting its vibrant, orange-red color. From the 27th until today, its’ orbit will be visible in Earth’s stratosphere, making today the last chance to see Mars as close as possible!

The minimum distance from Earth to Mars is about 33.9 million miles. Because Earth and Mars have elliptical orbits and are slightly tilted, all approaches ever taking place are not equal. Experts call approaches between Earth and Mars “oppositions,” which is what is taking place this week.

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35.8 million miles isn’t the closest it has been to Earth. The last time was in 2003, where it was 34.6 million miles away from the Earth. That was the closest it had been in nearly 60,000 years! That type of opposition won’t be expected again until at least 2287, when we’re all long gone. However, experts are predicting a close approach in October 2020 with a mileage of 38.6 million.

The best time to catch a glimpse of Mars, or any approaching planet or star, is in the early morning hours with clear skies. Fortunately, if you’ve been bombarded with clouds for the night into the morning, there are livestreams available for viewing pleasure. Despite it being visible with the naked eye, NASA also states that using a telescope for closer viewing is fine, too.

Mars has been the subject of many solar system studies this year. Just recently it was reported that a giant body of water was discovered there, extending the possibility of life on the Red Planet. There have also been possible alien fossils discovered on the planet, in addition to spacecrafts that may or may not have been used by alien lifeforms.

Wikimedia Commons

Groups have also been dabbling with the idea of what it would look like in the future. In the video shown, 5 different groups planned a habitat that could support astronauts for up to 12 months on Mars. NASA chose the finalists themselves, further providing that more research will be constructed on the planet in the future.

Be sure to SHARE this article with your friends so they’re in the know about viewing the planet tonight!

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