Mars To Be Closest To Earth In 11 Years

Mars To Be Closest To Earth In 11 Years
Mars- We are coming!!!!! Cyril Rana / Flickr CC BY 2.0

This Sunday, astronomers and stargazers will witness a spectacular celestial event called as the Mars opposition.


Occurring once every two years, the event marks the positioning of Mars, Earth and the sun in one line. Earth will be between Mars and the sun.

While Mars is as close as 48 million miles from our planet, it will come even closer – 46.8 million miles – on May 30. This will be the closest the two planets have been in 11 years. Two years from now, in 2018, the distance will further shorten as Mars will only be 36 million miles from Earth.

“Just look southeast after the end of twilight, and you can’t miss it,” Alan MacRobert, the senior editor of Sky & Telescope, said. “Mars looks almost scary now, compared to how it normally looks.”

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The closest distance ever between the two planets to have been recorded is 34.6 million miles, an event which occurred in 2003, CBS 8 reports. NASA notes the next time the two planets will come as close will be in 2287.

The positioning of Mars and Earth in their respective orbits is one of the factors that determine the closeness between them. While it takes the Earth 365 days to complete one revolution around the sun, the red planet takes 687 Earth days to do so. Due to the difference in the number of days it takes for the two planets to circle around the sun, they pass by each other once every 26 months.

However, the distance between Mars and Earth – even at their closest approach – varies substantially, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. When they are on the opposite sides of the sun, an event that occurs once every couple of years, the distance between them can be as much as 249 million miles.

Live streaming of the event will be hosted by Slooh. The link can be accessed here.

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