Mars makes closest approach to Earth in 15 years

Close Approach is the point in Mars' orbit at which it comes closest to Earth.

The pictures were taken in June and July by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, and show that "Earth isn't the only planet where intense spring and summer storms wreak havoc", the U.S. agency said in a statement.

The Earth and Mars both orbit around the sun with the distance between the two planets usually at about 140,000,000 miles apart. NASA said that the planets won't be rubbing shoulders that closely again until 2287.

On the evening of July 31, and the planet will be seen rising from the Gemini constellation in India and you will be able to see it with the naked eye.

However, Mars will come close to Earth the next time in 2020 and the distance shall be 38.6 million miles (62 million kilometers). However, a massive dust storm engulfing the Red planet is obscuring the surface details which are normally visible through telescopes.

Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, Calif. will livestream the close approach, from 1 to 4 a.m. Yes, you can share in the excitement by watching online or at local star-viewing parties.

The image of Saturn was taken on June 6 when its ring system was near its maximum tilt towards Earth, allowing for a handsome view of the rings and the gaps between them. In fact, Aldrin spoke passionately in the webcast about a future hope to first return to the moon, and then Mars.

Creating a reliable, user-friendly life support system will be critical for any successful manned missions to Mars, NASA said in the announcement.

At its closest approach, Mars shone at a magnitude of minus 2.8, which is twice as bright as Jupiter but dimmer than Venus (lower magnitudes mean it looks brighter). It will be brighter than the gas giant Jupiter and as bright as Saturn in the night sky. So, while it won't remain this bright in the night sky for long, it will be brilliant long enough for everyone to take a look. In fact, the planet's best visibility is estimated to be from July 27 to July 30, meaning you still have tonight to experience a sight you wont get for at least another 15 years.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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