Double Feature In The Sky – Mars At Its Brightest For the Next Two Hundred Years And A Blood Moon Eclipse

Friday, 27 July 2018 - 1:31PM
Mars
Friday, 27 July 2018 - 1:31PM
Double Feature In The Sky – Mars At Its Brightest For the Next Two Hundred Years And A Blood Moon Eclipse
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Pixabay
Skywatchers are in for a late-night double-feature picture show this weekend. We already cleared up the bald-faced lies surrounding tonight's blood moon lunar eclipse for you, but there's another event worth witnessing – a super-bright Mars that can be seen with the naked eye. It will be the closest approach by the red planet in 15 years, so avoid the FOMO and pay attention to the following information:

CNN reports that Mars is reaching its opposition. An opposition occurs when Mars, the Sun, and Earth sync up in orbit to form a straight line with Earth in the middle. Normal opposition occurs about every two years, but this one is special. It falls near Mars' perihelion: when it is closest to the Sun and, therefor, Earth as well. This alignment – coupled with Mars' proximity to our planet – only happens once every 15-17 years, making Mars look brighter and larger in the sky – and that all goes down tonight.

You won't even need a telescope.



For our readers in parts of South America (central Chile), South Africa, and Australia, Mars will be higher in the sky. For those looking from the United States and Europe, it will hover a little closer to the horizon. Mars will be noticeable beginning Friday morning, but the close approach officially starts around 3:50 am EST on Tuesday morning, Space.com reports. (Better brew that extra coffee now.)

While this weekend's approach will be the closest since 2003 – at around 35.8 million miles from Earth – it doesn't surpass that year's record-setting in terms of actual distance. Earth and Mars were "only" 34.6 million miles apart that year, a record which reportedly won't be broken until August 28, 2287. If someone figures out the key to time-travel or immortality by then, we'll be sure to report on that event too, just so that we can reference this reference and blow our own minds.
Science
Space
Mars