Mars Closest to Earth Again after 15 years
At a distance of 57.6 million kilometers, Mars has come closest to Earth since 2003(15 years ago) and will seem relatively brighter.
The Earth will have the Mars and Sun on either side, with the 3 celestial bodies in a straight line. Mars will be visible to the naked eye throughout Tuesday’s night sky in India, starting 7:10 pm until dawn. But, a dust storm presently overwhelming Mars is obscuring surface details normally visible through telescopes, but the good news about all the dust is that it reflects sunlight, which makes for an even brighter red planet, said Widener University astronomer Harry Augensen.
“It’s magnificent. It’s as bright as an airplane landing light,” Augensen 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.” But how did Mars came closer to Earth? Because Earth and Mars have elliptical orbits like others, which is oval in shape.
The perihelic opposition happens when Mars is at the nearest point to the Sun in its orbit, which happened on July 27 in 2018, the night of the lunar eclipse. At that time, the gap between the two planets was greater than it will be tomorrow. But it must be noted that Mars closest to the Earth does not mean it will be at its brightest too.
Mars is a tiny bit fainter now than at its July 27 opposition. Because of Opposition surge. Mars reflects sunlight most directly back to Earth at opposition. This directness accentuates Mars’ brilliance. Before and after opposition, sunlight is reflected at a slightly slanted angle relative to Earth, thereby reducing Mars’ brightness. In 2003, Mars and Earth were the closest in nearly 60,000 years, 55.7 million kilometers.
NASA said that won’t happen again until 2287.The next close approach, meanwhile, in 2020, will be 62 million kilometers, according to NASA. The best place to watch Mars from Earth is in the Southern Hemisphere that means India is not in the best location for the lookout. However, visibility will not be too bad as it is estimated that the planet will be easily visible from all parts of India, just not as well as it would be from Australia, South Africa or countries in South America. You will need a telescope with a big lens (6- to 8-inch in size) to be able to see the planet, and even then the clouds may obstruct your view.