Mars will be the closest it has come to Earth in 15 Years tonight — what to know as the Red Planet approaches

By Emily Zauzmer
July 31, 2018 04:20 PM
Advertisement
Credit: Getty Images

An otherworldly phenomenon will grace the sky tonight.

Thanks to a rare cosmic situation in which Mars, Earth, and the sun line up, the red planet will appear three times larger than normal on Tuesday, July 31.

At 3:50AM EST, Mars will arrive at the closest position that it has been to Earth — 35.8 million miles away — since 2003, when Mars came within 34.7 million miles of Earth, Forbes reported. That proximity in 2003 was the nearest the two planets had been to each other in 60,000 years.

The next date that Mars will seem so luminous will be September 15, 2035, the Daily Mail noted. Earth is normally 140 million miles away from Mars.

NASA discussed the event, known as perihelic opposition, on its blog: “What does this mean for sky watchers? It means the Red Planet will appear super bright, and with its orange-red color, will be hard to miss in the nighttime sky.”

If you want to watch Mars approach without going outside, NASA is offering a live cam that broadcasts from the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles beginning at 1:00AM EST.

The Curiosity rover, NASA’s vehicle on Mars, posted a tweet to mark the occasion: “I feel so close to you right now…Look to the South to see the Red Planet shining bright.”

This astronomical event follows the longest lunar eclipse of the century last Friday.