The Red Planet is about to be spectacular! This month and next, Earth is
catching up with Mars in an encounter that will culminate in the closest
approach between the two planets in recorded history. The next time Mars may
come this close is in 2287. Due to the way Jupiter's gravity tugs on Mars
and perturbs its orbit, astronomers can only be certain that Mars has not
come this close to Earth in the Last 5,000 years, but it may be as long as
60,000 years before it happens again.
The encounter will culminate on August 27th when Mars comes to within
34,649,589 miles of Earth and will be (next to the moon) the brightest
object in the night sky. It will attain a magnitude of -2.9 and will appear
25.11 arc seconds wide. At a modest 75-power magnification
Mars will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye. Mars will be easy
to spot. At the beginning of August it will rise in the east at 10p.m. and
reach its azimuth at about 3 a.m.
By the end of August when the two planets are closest, Mars will rise at
nightfall and reach its highest point in the sky at 12:30a.m. That's pretty
convenient to see something that no human being has seen in recorded
history. So, mark your calendar at the beginning of August to see Mars grow
progressively brighter and brighter throughout the month.
Share this with your children and grandchildren. NO ONE ALIVE TODAY WILL
EVER SEE THIS AGAIN
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