On the night of 31 July, Mars will be closest to the Earth in 15 years. The red planet will be just 35.8 million miles (57.6 million kilometres) apart on Tuesday. With Mars and the Sun on either sides and Earth in the middle, the three celestial bodies will be in a straight line on Tuesday.
In 2003, Mars and Earth were the closest in nearly 60,000 years – 34.6 million miles (55.7 million kilometres). NASA said that won’t happen again until 2287. The Mars will be closer to the Earth the next in 2020. It will be 38.6 million miles (62 million kilometres) apart then, according to NASA.
Mars which is already brighter than usual, will shine even more and will appear to be bigger on Tuesday. However, a massive dust storm engulfing the Red planet is obscuring the surface details which are normally visible through telescopes.
Part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission, Mars Curiosity on Tuesday tweeted: “I feel so close to you right now. Mars and Earth haven’t been this near since 2003, and won’t be again until 2035! Look to the south tonight to see the Red Planet shining bright.”
Each Martian year, moderately large dust storms cover continent-sized areas and last for weeks at a time. Global 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.
The Mars will be visible in the closest position to Earth in the Southern Hemisphere, not in India. Though visibility won’t be too bad from other parts and hence will be visible from India too. The spectacle can be witnessed online on a YouTube live stream. Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles will be hosting a live stream of the event.