Skip to comments.This Week, Mars Is The Closest to Earth It'll Be For Another 15 Years
Posted on 10/06/2020 7:57:37 AM PDT by Red Badger
JACINTA BOWLER 5 OCTOBER 2020
Mars, our second closest cosmic cousin, has been in our collective imagination for decades. Between fantasies of martian visits and the promise of water under its icy surface, Mars doesn't need to do much to be in our collective good books.
But very soon, Mars is not just going to be close to our hearts, but also nearest to our actual planet - a mere 62.1 million kilometres (38.6 million miles) away from Earth.
This is the closest it'll be for the next 15 years. And it means that stargazing is highly recommended as Mars will be bright, big and easy to see with or without a telescope.
We'd recommend checking out a sky chart to work out where Mars will be in the night sky in your location so you can plan for the best viewing.
But the good news is, it'll be in a region of the night sky with very few stars, and if you're lucky, you should also be able to catch Jupiter and Saturn shining brightly closer to the horizon.
The day we'll be the absolute closest to Mars is the 6 October, so get a move on.
As you can see in this video below, Mars and Earth are both on slightly elliptical orbits, which means they can occasionally get very close to each other.
The closest possible encounter is when Earth is the furthest away from the Sun (aphelion) and Mars is the closest to the Sun (perihelion). At this point the two would be at the minimum 54.6 million kilometres (33.9 million miles) apart.
This configuration is called an opposition, and it happens every two years or so. But we've never actually recorded us hitting that perfect 'closest' point.
The closest approach we've ever recorded happened back in 2003, with just 55.7 million kilometres separating us with Mars. Two years ago, 2018 was pretty close too, with just 57.6 million kilometres (35.8 million miles) between us.
Unfortunately though, we're getting further and further out of alignment with our closest neighbour and won't start getting closer again until 2029, culminating in a very close approach in 2035 only 56.9 million kilometres (35.4 million miles) apart so start planning your 2035 Mars watching schedule well in advance!
At the other end of the scale from an opposition is a conjunction, when the two planets are furthest from each other. They can end up a 401 million kilometres (250 miles) away from each other. This occurs when Earth and Mars are on opposite sides of the Sun and both in their aphelion.
It's for this reason that space organisations take advantage of the short distance between our planets when these windows arise. This year was a peak opportunity for many missions to the Red Planet.
If you remember, Mars One planned to launch a Mars lander in 2020 before it um, never did that.
But three missions did successfully take off. NASA's Perseverance rover is close to half way through its journey to the red planet after blasting off back in July, while two other missions left for Mars in the same two-week window.
The next lot of Mars missions like the Mars Sample Return - will be travelling in 2022, but they'll have to travel an extra 20 million kilometres, as we'll be at a distance of 81.5 million kilometres (50.6 million miles) at our closest approach during this time.
So this week is a pretty special opportunity that we won't have again until 2035. Make sure you wave to Mars as it goes past!
Venus and Mars have been exceptional viewing for months now.
How close is Uranus to earth?
YES! It took an immature, idiotic moron to make such an adolescently crude comment.
And I’m just the guy to make it!!
I feel the pull..
Does that mean that if we don’t elect Biden, it will hit us because of ‘mean orange man’?
Mars’ Closest Approach is on 10/6
Mars’ Greatest Brilliancy is on 10/12
Mars’ Opposition is on 10/14
I can’t picture in my mind why they don’t all happen at the same time.
When do the cylinders start landing?
I just got that one :)
I’m slow but eventually I get them :)
Are there rings around Uranus?
Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids.
Mars has been gorgeous rising over the eastern mountains. Last night the rising waning gibbous moon at 81% was incredible over the lake shimmering on the water.
Ya gotta look out for the Klingons.
I thought so. I glanced up at the sky last night and noticed how much closer Mars looks. I wondered if we had anything to with about...
The chances of anything coming from Mars
Is a million to one, they said...
Here’s Musk’s chance.
Will the Martians be close enough to vote?
In fact it’s cold as hell!..........
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