Watch Mars in night sky: Red planet is closest to Earth for next 15 years

Planets Earth and Mars. Photo Credit: phys.org

Mars will now be closer to Earth for the next 15 years. So, depending on the weather conditions, simply go out and watch the sky at midnight and you’ll be able to see the red planet, reported India Today on Thursday.

Mars will be closest to Earth, starting from October 6 until 2035.

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa), this is the time when Mars’ orbit lies “at about 38.6 million miles (62.07 million kilometers) from our planet”.

“Mars was visible for much of the night in the southern sky and at its highest point at about midnight,” a Nasa wing said.

Mars will still be visible through October, but will become fainter as Mars and Earth travel farther away from each other in their orbits around the Sun.

“October is a great time for viewing Mars, as the planet is visible all night right now, and reaches its highest point in the sky around midnight. This period of excellent visibility coincides with the event known as opposition, which occurs about every two years, when Mars is directly on the opposite side of Earth from the Sun,” Nasa wrote in a skywatching guide.

“This is also around the time when Mars and Earth come closest together in their orbits, meaning the Red Planet is at its brightest in the sky, so don’t miss it,” it further said.

One can watch Mars from Earth using a binoculars and even a cell phone with quality camera on it. Here are some sky watching tips from Nasa.

WHEN THE LAST TIME MARS WAS SO CLOSE TO EARTH?
The last time Mars was close to Earth was in in 2018, but in 2003, the planets made a historic approach.

On August 27, 2003 at 9:51 Universal Time (the time in Greenwich, England, Mars came closer to Earth, at about 55,758,006 km (34,646,418 miles) from center to center. That was the nearest the two planets have been in almost 60,000 years!, Nasa said.

WHEN DOES MARS CLOSE APPROACH OCCUR?

Mars Close Approach is when the red planet and Earth come nearest to each other in their orbits around the sun. “The minimum distance from Earth to Mars is about 33.9 million miles (54.6 million kilometers). However, that doesn’t happen very often,” Nasa said.

WHEN WILL IT HAPPEN NEXT?

The next Mars Close Approach is staled in December 2022, when the red planet will be only 38.6 million miles (62.07 million kilometers) from Earth, Nasa said.
“Taking advantage of the short trip-time will be NASA’s next mission to Mars, known as Mars Sample Return, a campaign to bring samples of Mars rocks and soil back to Earth, where they can be studied in detail,” the space agency said.