Mars gets closest to Earth, Sun first time in 11 yrs on May 22
According to latest reports from the United States National Aeronautic Space Agency (NASA), Mars, the red planet, is creeping ever closer to Earth, as it gears up for its closest orbit for 11 years.
Those looking skyward at the end of the month will see Mars the closest to Earth it has been in more than a decade.
As part of a number of cosmic events in Earth’s corner of the solar system this month, the two planets will line up with the sun, with Mars appearing larger and brighter in the night sky.
The opposition of Mars – when the planet lines up with the sun and Earth is in the middle – takes place on May 22 and will bring the red planet within roughly 47 million miles (75.6 million km) of Earth.
Just eight days after this event, the orbits will bring the planets another half a million miles closer together, bringing them the closest they have been for 11 years.
According to NASA, Mars will reach its highest point in the night sky at midnight, around 35 degrees above the southern horizon.
Mars opposition will occur on May 22, with close approach eight days later. The planet will come within 46.8 million miles (75.3 million km) of Earth at close approach, the closest for 11 years.
According to NASA, the opposition events occur every 26 months, but between 15 and 17 years, they coincide with the point at which Mars’ orbit brings it closest to the sun.
The event sees Earth as piggy in the middle, and NASA says stargazers will be able to see Mars grow brighter and larger in the night sky from May 18 until June 3.
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