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Mars to come closest to Earth in 15 years

By Deepika

This Friday, July 27, 2018, Mars will be brighter in the night sky than it has been in 15 years due to an astronomical event called opposition, which occurs when Earth passes directly between the sun and the red planet, or when Mars is directly opposite the sun in our sky.


Mars will be a "mere" 36 million miles from Earth, according to NASA, before both planets travel farther away from each other as they orbit the sun.

On Friday, Mars will be at "opposition," which occurs when the Earth lies directly between Mars and the sun, making the sun and Mars appear in opposite directions as viewed from the Earth.

NASA plans to release on Friday what scientists say will be stunning new images of Mars taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. The release of the photos coincides with the planet's close approach to Earth.

Hubble, one of the largest space telescopes, captured images of dust storms on the Red Planet this summer.

The Mars opposition falls just before the longest total lunar eclipse of the century, which will last 1 hour and 43 minutes. North America is the only continent on Earth from which the eclipse will not be visible.

In 2003, Mars and Earth were the closest in nearly 60,000 years - 55.7 million kilometres. NASA said that won't happen again until 2287.

If you miss this weekend's event, the next close approach of Mars will happen on October 6, 2020, when the red planet will be 38.6 million miles away from Earth.

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