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Mars makes closest approach to Earth in 11 years
by Allen Cone
Washington (UPI) May 30, 2016

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

Space-gazers will get a treat starting Monday night.

Starting at 5:34 EDT, Mars will be the closest it has been to Earth since 2005, according to NASA.

How far out?

Around 46.8 million miles.

And if you miss seeing it tonight, Mars will remain around 48 million miles away until June 12.

Or you can wait two years on July 31 to see it even closer -- 35.8 million miles -- because Mars' orbit around the sun is elliptical.

On Aug. 27, 2003, Earth and Mars were only 34,646,418 miles apart.

Mars will be visible most of the night as it reaches its highest point around midnight. That's about 35 degrees above the southern horizon.

The closer encounter with Earth is one week after the Martian opposition -- when Mars and the sun lined up on exact opposite sides of the Earth. Every two years, Earth catches up to Mars' orbit and aligns with the red planet and the sun in a straight line.

Earth takes 365 days to orbit the sun but Mars takes 687 Earth days.

With the naked eye, the red planet will be a tiny blip. So, a telescope will offer a better view with possibly clouds and polar caps visible.

"Just look southeast after the end of twilight, and you can't miss it," Alan MacRobert, a senior editor of Sky & Telescope magazine, said. "Mars looks almost scary now, compared to how it normally looks in the sky."

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Previous Report
Mars - Closest, Biggest and Brightest in a Decade
Boston MA (SPX) May 20, 2016
Look low in the southeast at nightfall, and an unusually bright, fire-yellow "star" will be staring back at you. It's the planet Mars, closer to Earth now than it has been since November 2005. Mars is exactly its closest on May 30th, 47.2 million miles from Earth. But it remains within 48 million miles of us from now through June 12th. So it will stay essentially this close and bright through th ... read more

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