Mars to reach closest point to Earth since 2003

Mars is now the closest to Earth than it has been in 15 years

Mars Close Approach: How to view the celestial event

In the summer of this year there are worthy of the attention of astronomical events - the opposition of Saturn and then Mars to our planet.

Mars, the fourth planet from the Sun, will be 57.6 million kilometres from Earth on Tuesday, the closest it has been since 2003 when it came within 55.7 million kilometres, which was the nearest in almost 60,000 years.

The local stargazers are invited for a camp to witness the Red Planet from 7 pm to 10 pm tonight at the Colombo Campus grounds.

When Mars slowly approaches what astronomers call opposition, it and the Sun are on opposite sides of the Earth. At this point, the ringed planet was 1.4 billion kilometers (870 million miles) away from Earth and its spectacular rings are almost at maximum tilt toward the planet, offering a breathtaking angle of Saturn to photograph. In addition, while we have somewhat of an abundance of Carbon dioxide and greenhouses gasses on Earth, there isn't enough on Mars.

Because Earth and Mars have elliptical orbits and are slightly tilted to each other, all close approaches are not equal. We are talking about a distance of 57.6 million kilometers. This type of proximity won't occur again until 2287.

There's also a hexagonal pattern visible around the planet's north pole, which is a stable wind feature that was discovered way back in 1981.

"Our results suggest that there is not enough Carbon dioxide remaining on Mars to provide significant greenhouse warming were the gas to be put into the atmosphere; in addition, most of the Carbon dioxide gas is not accessible and could not be readily mobilized".

Luckily, you can see Mars easily with the naked eye. For some time he will be in the sky the brightest point. Mars looks like a bright, red star in the east every evening and in the west before dawn.

According to observatory officials, at the moment of closest approach, Mars will be at its very best position for viewing through a telescope from Los Angeles as it crosses the meridian and appears highest in the southern sky. Planet Mars can be spotted in the sky till end of year with more appreciable brightness till end of November 2018. The late-summer skies are filled with celestial gems and this August also brings us three great planets!

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