Mars Close Approach takes place about every 26 months, but since Earth and Mars don't have perfectly circular orbits, the shortest distance between the planets isn't always the same for each close approach. During opposition, Mars and the sun are on directly opposite sides of Earth, so Mars will rise in the east just as the sun sets in the west and vice versa, according to NASA. That is the point in Mars' orbit when it comes closest to Earth.
"An opposition can occur anywhere along Mars" orbit.
The planet's closest approach to Earth occurred in 2003 when the two planets drew within 34.6 million miles, the closest approach in almost 60,000 years.
In 2018, Mars will appear brightest from July 27 to July 30.
But some perihelic oppositions bring Earth and Mars closer together than others, the USA space agency said. But Mars won't be as close as it was in 2003 until 2287.
Of course, you will get the best look at the close approach through a telescope, but if you don't have one and you want to see the planet closer up, then it could be worth contacting your local planetarium or astronomy centre to see if they're holding any special events for it.
"Even with bright moonlight, you can't miss Mars", Samuhel said.
It will also be important to be patient and comfortable.
Mars arrives at opposition on the same day as July's full moon. However, the planet will appear around the same brightness on the night of opposition and the night that it is making its closest approach to Earth. Only Venus will appear brighter. For some, that means a chance to see a total lunar eclipse - the longest of the 21st century, but the eclipse won't be visible from the United States. A new study published in the journal Nature Communications calls out the wind-eroded Medusae Fossae as the single largest source of dust on Mars.
The days leading up to and just after July 27 will be prime days to view Mars.
Mars will remain visible in the night sky throughout the remainder of the summer and throughout the fall, but it will slowly become dimmer and dimmer toward the end of the year.
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