Earthlings will get the biggest and brightest view of Mars in years this month.
The Red Planet will be the closest it’s been to Earth since 2003 by the end of July.
In 2003, the planet was only 55.8 million kilometres away from Earth — the closest it had been in 60,000 years. Its average distance from Earth is about 225 million kilometres.
This year, Mars will be nearly as close as it was 15 years ago at about 57 million kilometres.
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What exactly will happen and when?
The Red Planet will be at opposition with the sun, meaning Mars, the Earth and the sun will form a straight line during their orbits.
While Mars opposition occurs every 26 months, NASA explains that every 15 or 17 years it happens it is even closer to the sun and Earth.
This year’s opposition will occur on July 27, according to Space.com.
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How to watch
Beginning July 7, Mars will begin to appear brighter to those watching from Earth.
The planet will continue to grow in size, and be at its brightest between July 21 and August 3.
To find it in the night sky on July 27, you can start looking around sunset — but the best view will be around midnight, according to EarthSky.
It’s important not to mix up Mars and the moon. The moon will still appear much larger. Mars will be beneath it and will also be more red in colour.
You can look with just your eyes, but binoculars or a telescope will offer a better view.
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Those who want a good look at the planet should get a glimpse this time, as Mars won’t be as close to Earth until 2035.
And it won’t beat the 2003 proximity until August 28, 2287, NASA estimates.