Mars closest to earth in 15 years today


Close Approach is the point in Mars' orbit at which it comes closest to Earth.

As Mars will be in the nearest position to the Earth, people can get the view from sunset until sunrise.

The Red Planet will be visible over the night sky in bright shades of red and orange. The Earth will have the Red Planet and the Sun on either side, with the three celestial bodies in a straight line.

The last time it came so close was on August 28, 2003, when it was within 55.76 million kilometres of Earth, according to EarthSky - and that was the closest it had been in nearly 60,000 years.

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As for novice astronomers who might be a little bummed they missed the 3:50 a.m. wake up call, NASA streamed Mars' close encounter with Earth live from the Griffith Observatory.

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"Gobal dust storms - lasting for weeks or months - tend to happen during the spring and summer in the southern hemisphere, when Mars is closest to the Sun and heating is at a maximum to generate winds", it added. The two planets will be just 57.6 million kilometres apart.

Part of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, Mars Curiosity on Tuesday tweeted: "I feel so close to you right now".

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The pictures were taken in June and July by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, and show that "Earth isn't the only planet where intense spring and summer storms wreak havoc", the USA agency said in a statement.

This is the point when Mars' orbit comes closest to our planet meaning it will be visible for much of the night.

Mars will be seen rising from the Gemini constellation in India tonight (July 31).

A CNN video screengrab of the planet Mars.

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If you miss this approach, the next time you'll catch one will be in 2020, when it will be 62.07 million kilometres from Earth. The minimum distance from the Earth to Mars is about 33.9 million miles.