Science

Mars will be at its closest to Earth in 15 years this month

Get those telescopes out.

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Late July will bring the best view humans on Earth will get of Mars in 15 years.

Mars, like all planets in the solar system, orbits the sun. As it is further away from the sun than Earth, it makes around one round trip for every two our planet does.

This means that sometimes Mars is the other side of the sun from Earth, and sometimes it passes closer. When Earth and Mars are passing on the same side of the sun, this is called opposition.

Opposition occurs around every 26 months, but the one which will occur on July 27 is special. It is called a perihelic opposition, and occurs when Mars is at its closest to the sun.

In July, Mars will pass within 35.8 million miles of Earth. It will be at its closest to us on July 31, just after the opposition on July 27.

It will shine 10 times brighter than usual, allowing it to be seen easily from Earth by the naked eye, binoculars and telescopes.

The last time Mars was in perihelic opposition was in 2003, when the red planet passed closer than it had in 59,000 years at 34.6 million miles.

Mars will be visible for weeks this summer, and become smaller and smaller from Earth as it moves away.

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