This Weekend Offers A Chance To See Mars Up Close

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The next Mars close approach is October 6, 2020, NASA says. Mars will be at a distance of 35.8 million miles (57.6 million kilometers).

On Friday, Mars will be at "opposition", which occurs when the Earth lies directly between Mars and the sun, making the sun and Mars appear in opposite directions as viewed from the Earth.

Mars will shine bright and look bigger between now and Tuesday.

The phenomenon is called a Mars close approach, which is when the red planet and Earth come nearest to each other in their orbits around the Sun.

Anyone noticing a particularly red star in the sky recently has more than likely been looking at Mars. Mars made its closest approach to Earth in almost 60,000 years back in 2003, when its center was 34,646,418 miles from Earth's.

Experts also found out that these proton auroras occur a lot more frequently on Mars than the auroras on our planet, which has a powerful magnetic field.

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. In 1877, Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli claimed to have seen canals on Mars, suggesting there could be possible civilization, or Martians, on the red planet.

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And on Friday, it will be in opposition, which means Mars and the sun will be on exact opposite sides of Earth.

"Even with bright moonlight, you can't miss Mars", Samuhel said.

During opposition, Mars is especially photogenic because it can be seen fully illuminated by the Sun as viewed from Earth.

Hubble, one of the largest space telescopes, captured images of dust storms on the Red Planet this summer. That same day, parts of the world will see a total lunar eclipse.

The Mars opposition falls just before the longest total lunar eclipse of the century, which will last 1 hour and 43 minutes. NASA said that won't happen again until 2287.

While the blood moon eclipse will not be visible from North America, it will visible across much of Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia, weather permitting.

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