Mars and Earth About to Get Cozy, Astronomically Speaking

Monday will mark the closest the red planet has been to us in 11 years
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2016 2:59 PM CDT
On Memorial Day, Mars will be closer to Earth than it's been since 2005.   (NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team - STScI/AURA, J. Bell - ASU, M. Wolff - Space Science Institute via AP)

(Newser) – This Memorial Day, Mars attacks. OK, so the red planet won't actually be attacking, but it will be closer to Earth than it's been in 11 years. ABC News reports Mars will be within 46.8 million miles of Earth at 5:34pm Eastern time on Monday. At that time, it will take light just 4 minutes and 11 seconds to travel between the planets, according to The proximity is due to Mars and Earth aligning in their orbits, something that happens every 26 months. How close they are when they line up varies due to the elliptical shape of their orbits. Mars will be even closer in 2018.

While you still won't be able to see any details of Mars without a powerful telescope, Monday will present a great opportunity to spot it with your naked eye. Just after it gets dark, look low on the horizon toward the east-southeast. Mars will appear as a bright "fiery, yellow-orange 'star.'" (Read more Mars stories.)

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