Get ready for another celestial show tonight. Today, July 31, is the day when Mars will approach closest to Earth in 15 years. The two planets will come close to a distance of 57.6 km apart. As the red planet and the green earth get closest, Mars is expected to shine its brightest and appear biggest, according to astronomers.
“It’s magnificent. It’s as bright as an airplane landing light,” astronomer Harry Augensen from Widener University said.
“Not quite as bright as Venus, but still because of the reddish, orange-ish-red color, you really can’t miss it in the sky,” he said.
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The martian dust that is engulfing the red planet reflects sunlight making the planet appear brighter, scientists explain. Hence, they are hopeful of a delightful viewing of the night sky.
The next similar event will happen in 2020, according to astronomers. Mars will approach the earth closest at 62 million kilometres, NASA said.
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The last such event took place in 2003. Mars and Earth were closest at 55.7 million km in in nearly 60,000 years.
(With inputs from agencies)