Mars to make closest approach to Earth since 2003

Astronomers predict that the Mars will come close to the Earth in 5 years

So what's the big deal about the close approach? During opposition, Mars and the sun are on directly opposite sides of Earth, so Mars will rise in the east just as the sun sets in the west and vice versa, according to NASA. Mars will still be more visible than normal for a while, but will become fainter as it travels farther from Earth during the planets' orbits around the sun.

Also on Friday, NASA plans to release what scientists say will be stunning new images of Mars taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. The sun, moon and Venus are usually the top three brightest objects. Viewers in the US will not be able to see the lunar eclipse.

They're hosting Mars Watch 2018 at the Brooks Observatory in McMaster Hall from 9:30 to 10:30 p.m. Thursday as well as July 30, July 31, and August 1.

As Mars draws near, it will grow brighter and appear larger.

The event will be overseen by the associate professor Chuck Higgins, with other astronomers and students on hand to answer questions and guide the viewing.

Mars will appear brightest from July 27 to July 30. The best viewing of the planet will coincide with the lunar eclipse on Friday, July 27. "If Earth and Mars followed perfectly circular orbits, opposition would be as close as the two planets could get".

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The two planets will be just 35.8 million miles (57.6 million kilometers) apart next Tuesday.

"It's magnificent. It's as bright as an airplane landing light", Widener University astronomer Harry Augensen tells The Associated Press.

"It will appear to be a very bright orange star and you'll be able to watch it creep across the sky", said Kelly. According to EarthSky.org, it will be appear almost as bright as it did in 2003, when it was closer to Earth than it had been in 60,000 years.

Nasa has said that there is now a dust storm which is affecting the whole planet, so this may make seeing details on Mars a little more hard for astronomers.

The next close approach will occur in 2020 when the Red Planet will be within 38.6 million miles.

Mars' orbit has been getting closer to the Earth's, leading to great visibility for the end of July. Friday's will be long, lasting 1 hour and 43 minutes. North America is the only continent on Earth from which the eclipse will not be visible.

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