Mars closest to earth in 15 years today


Mars which is already brighter than usual, will shine even more and will appear to be bigger on Tuesday.

As Mars will be in the nearest position to the Earth, people can get the view from sunset until sunrise.

The Red Planet will appear super bright with an orange-red tint making it almost impossible to miss in the nighttime sky. The Earth will have the Red Planet and the Sun on either side, with the three celestial bodies in a straight line.

As for novice astronomers who might be a little bummed they missed the 3:50 a.m. wake up call, NASA streamed Mars' close encounter with Earth live from the Griffith Observatory. It was the closest Mars had been to Earth in 60,000 years, according to NASA.

The red planet comes close enough for viewing only once or twice every 15 or 17 years.

Stargazers have the massive Martian dust storm to partly thank for its brightness.

More news: "Bryce Harper is not going anywhere" — Nats GM
More news: Meghan Markle's father and half-sister spark backlash online
More news: Shark swiped from San Antonio Aquarium in baby stroller; suspect reportedly confesses

The minimum distance from the Earth to Mars is about 33.9 million miles (54.6 million kilometers), and is rarely achieved.

Part of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, Mars Curiosity on Tuesday tweeted: "I feel so close to you right now". It is visible as a bright reddish orange spot in the sky. This year's opposition took place during the total lunar eclipse and blood moon, making the red planet appear dim.

Additionally, gravitational pull of the planets within our solar system constantly affects the shape of their orbits, moving Mars' orbit even closer to the Earth.

On the evening of July 31, and the planet will be seen rising from the Gemini constellation in India and you will be able to see it with the naked eye.

The observations captured by Hubble, as well as the spacecraft now orbiting Mars, will help astronomers study atmospheric changes on the two planets. The live stream can be found on the space agency's website, or NASA's YouTube channel from 1.30pm EST (around 11pm IST). Mars was only 35.8 million miles away from Earth.