July has been rather eventful for the skywatchers; first a partial solar eclipse on July 13th, then a lunar eclipse on July 27 and now Mars coming the closest it has to Earth in 15 years on July 31st.
The Earth will have the red planet and the sun on either side with the three celestial bodies in a straight line.
This will be the closest distance between Mars and Earth until October 2020 but the red planet visibility as good as today is only every 15 to 17 years.
Those who were watching the lunar eclipse on July 27 must have noticed Mars in the sky too, as the planet was easily visible a few degrees below our natural satellite.
We should be able to see Mars till September, but it will appear smaller each passing day as it leaves the orbit closer to the Earth.
At 57.6 million kilometers apart, Mars will be closest to Earth today in over 15 years and while the best location to observe the celestial phenomenon is in the Southern Hemisphere, the red planet will be visible from most parts in India is it would be from South Africa, Australia or South American countries.
Also, when observing, a high powered telescope with a large lens (6-8 inch in size) is recommended but even then clouds me obstruct the view.
However for all the space enthusiasts out there you can still witness the phenomenon in all its glory as NASA’s Griffith observatory is hosting a live stream on YouTube.
Though Mars being closest to the Earth in 15 years is a phenomenon for our generation it is nowhere as big of a deal as it was in 2003.
Back then, Mars and Earth were ‘just’ 56 million kilometers apart – a feat phenomenon that had not occurred in 60,000 years and will not happen again till the year 2287, as per NASA’s estimates.
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