Mars making closest approach to Earth in 15 years

The next Mars close approach is on 6 October 2020 when the planet will be 38.6 million miles away.

Mars will still be 35.8 million miles away though, so there's certainly no danger of it bumping into us. On that date, Mars will be in opposition, meaning the orbit of Earth and Mars will form a straight line with the sun.

"In this case it's going to appear about five times brighter than usual", added Kelly.

Mars will be visible in the sky this week as it makes its closest approach to Earth in 15 years.

To find Mars, look to the southeastern sky around 11 p.m. Astronomers measure the night sky in degrees - the horizon is at zero, directly overhead is at 90 degrees. According to, 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's MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) spacecraft has found a new type of Martian aurora that occurs over much of the day side of the planet. Its closest approach to Earth is July 31.

During this time, Earth passes in-between Mars and the sun, putting the two planets near their closest points to each other and making Mars especially brilliant in the night sky.

Of course, you can always step outside and check out the red planet with your naked eye.

A massive dust storm is presently engulfing Mars, obscuring surface details normally visible through telescopes. The sun, moon and Venus are usually the top three brightest objects.

A massive dust storm that has engulfed the planet will make viewing surface details more hard than it typically would be for those using a telescope, but the dust also reflects the sun's light better, making the planet appear all that much brighter. In 1877, Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli claimed to have seen canals on Mars, suggesting there could be possible civilization, or Martians, on the red planet. You can't miss it.

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. Friday's will be long, lasting 1 hour and 43 minutes.

The total lunar eclipse on Friday will be visible in Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe and South America.

This won't happen again until 2287, Nasa has predicted.

  • Joey Payne