Published: Thu, June 21, 2018
Science | By Joan Schultz

Curiosity Rover took a selfie against the background of a sandstorm

Curiosity Rover took a selfie against the background of a sandstorm

The two planets are at their closest during the rare occasion when they're in "perihelic opposition" with each other, which is when Earth is directly in between Mars and the sun. According to NASA, that's when Mars and the Earth are closest to each other while they orbit around the sun.

On July 31, when Mars will be at its brightest, it will be 57.6 million kilometres away from Earth, according to The Weather Channel. "Mars will easily be visible to the naked eye", he said. "Actually, it will be hard to miss".

At that point the red planet will shine brighter than all the stars, which means that it will be very easy to spot it in the sky at night. It occurs when the Earth passes directly between Mars and the sun and as a result, brings the two planets closer to each other.

Next month, you have a unique opportunity to go outside and see the planet, Mars.

Mars won't be this close again until September 15, 2035.

Now, if Earth and Mars followed perfectly circular orbits, then "opposition" would also be the closest that the two planets ever came. For much of that night it will be visible to the naked eye.

Sky enthusiasts will be out in the coming weeks as experts say Mars is set to be the brightest it has been in over a decade.

"The storm is one of the most intense ever observed on the Red Planet", Nasa said in a press release. When they're at opposite ends of their orbits, the two planets can be impossibly far apart.

This clearly wasn't true, because Mars is only half the size of Earth and is about 34 million miles away.

An illustration of Mars and Earth in opposition.

"Mars will be visible from almost everywhere on Earth in July after sunset (only folks in the far north like Alaska, northern Canada, Greenland and Iceland won't be able to see it since it won't clear the southern horizon)-but all of the mainland USA, most of Canada, Europe and Asia, all of Africa, Central and South America, Australia, and Antarctica can see Mars in July", Regas said.

Mars will reach periphelic-opposition on July 27 and then approach Earth on July 31 at about 8.50am United Kingdom time. It will appear at its brightest from July 27-30.

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