This is the first time in 15 years that Mars has been so close to us. So don’t miss it.
There is good news for those who love astronomy and have a special passion for Mars. In the next few days, Mars will shine in the sky, as we will approach the time when the two planets have been closer to each other for 15 years.
Specifically, on July 31, Mars will be only 57.6 million kilometers away from us. It sounds awesome and magical, but it’s the closest distance since August 2003. For those who don’t know, when these two planets are located opposite the sides of the Sun – that is, the distance between them is more distant – the number reaches 401 million km.
While traveling around the Sun, Mars and Earth will intersect every 26 months. But since the orbits of the two are inherently elliptical, there will be times when we cross paths closer than the others. And that July 31st was one of those events.
This is also the time when Mars is closest to the Sun, so it will reflect the most light and become dazzling in our night sky. According to NASA, the best time to observe is July 31, but Mars has already started bright since July 7 and will continue to be brighter than other planets until September 7 of this year.
However, this is not the closest historical distance between Earth and Mars. In 2003, the distance between the two sides was only about 55.7 million km. This is a record for over 60,000 years, and will not be broken until at least August 28, 2287.
What does this event mean?
This approach is actually quite meaningful to astronomers. This allows us to shorten the distance when sending a spacecraft to Mars.
As NASA has a ship pointed up there – the InSight – is expected to arrive in November 2018. And in 2020 we will open a new horizon with two of the most modern generation autonomous robots: Mars 2020 from NASA and ExoMars from ESA.