Mars Is Shining Big and Bright This Weekend — Here's How to See It
This will be the closest Mars has been to Earth in 15 years.
It's a great time to be a stargazer.
The longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century will take place this week, on Thursday, June 26 into Friday, June 27. At that time, this month’s full moon – also known as the blood buck moon – will pass through the center of the Earth's shadow. When it does, the moon will turn a burnt orange color, as it did during January’s Super Blue Blood Moon. However, this eclipse will last for a very long time: one hour and 43 minutes.
Sadly, if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you’ll miss the lunar eclipse because it will take place during our daylight hours. But fear not, because the stars above still have a special event planned just for you.
On Tuesday, July 31, Mars will make its closest approach to Earth in 15 years, according to NASA. At that time, the planet will be just 35.8 million miles away, which means it will be making its closest approach since 2003. At that time, it came within 34.6 million miles of earth, marking its closest approach in 60,000 years.
As the space agency further explained, the red planet will be at its brightest from July 27 to July 30, meaning you can likely simply go outside, look up, and get a great view of our neighboring planet with the naked eye.
“It’s magnificent. It’s as bright as an airplane landing light,” Harry Augensen, Widener University astronomer, told the Associated Press. “Not quite as bright as Venus, but still because of the reddish, orange-ish-red color, you really can’t miss it in the sky.”
Of course, those viewing Mars through a telescope will get a better view. However, it may not be entirely worth it. As the Weather Channel reported, a massive dust storm has engulfed much of the planet, meaning viewing many fine details of its surface will be extremely difficult.
If you for some reason don’t get to view the planet this weekend fear not, as it will continue to shine brightly in the night sky well into August. And, if you still miss it, that’s OK too, as it will be making another incredibly close pass at Earth in 2020 when it will be just 38.6 million miles away.