Mars Gets Up Close, Personal With Earth

Red planet is closest it's been to us since 2007
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2014 8:36 AM CDT
Mars Gets Up Close, Personal With Earth
A view of Mars that was stitched together by images taken by NASA’s Viking Orbiter spacecraft.   (AP Photo/NASA)

The red planet is coming in for a close-up with our night sky: As Sky & Telescope reports, Mars will be closer to Earth this month than it's been since the end of 2007, appearing bigger and brighter in the night sky for the middle two weeks of April. It hits its "opposition"—the point at which it's opposite the sun—on Tuesday, and zooms closest to Earth the following Monday, April 14.

For context, NBC notes that Mars' elliptical orbit can take it as much as 250 million miles from Earth, while on April 14 that distance gets down to 57 million miles. "These opportunities only come about every two years," says Sky & Telescope's senior editor. "Most of the time, Mars is pretty darn far away." For sky watchers in the southeast, the red planet is the brightest object in the sky this month; it appears as a yellow-orange color. (More Mars stories.)

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