The convergence of Mars with the Earth

Mars is now the closest to Earth than it has been in 15 years

Mars will come even closer to Earth on September 11th, 2035.

Today, nearly 15 years since that last very close approach, Mars is making its another similarly close approach.

The local stargazers are invited for a camp to witness the Red Planet from 7 pm to 10 pm tonight at the Colombo Campus grounds.

The Earth moves between the sun and Mars every other year.

"Carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor (H2O) are the only greenhouse gases that are likely to be present on Mars in sufficient abundance to provide any significant greenhouse warming", said Bruce Jakosky of the University of Colorado, Boulder, lead author of the study appearing in Nature Astronomy July 30.

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

The minimum distance from the Earth to Mars is about 33.9 million miles (54.6 million kilometers), and is rarely achieved. The last time the red planet was less than 60 million kilometers away was in 2003.

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The atmospheric pressure on Mars is around 0.6 percent of Earth's.

Terraforming - that is, making an inhospitable planet comfortable enough that humans could settle on it without living in domes - is a concept that was popularized long ago by science fiction and while we might some day have a system for turning planets like Mars into more Earth-like homes for humanity, that's still a long ways off. This type of proximity won't occur again until 2287.

Although people viewing Mars from low latitudes and from the Southern Hemisphere will have the clearest view of the the Red Planet, Mars will be visible worldwide.

To observe this planet will become possible with the naked eye. Add a telescope and you can see a detailed view of the planet's surface and its polar caps. This proximity gives the Red Planet its brightest appearance in the night sky since the 2003 opposition.

When the Sun, Eart and Mars are lined up, with Earth sitting in between, a phenomenon called "opposition" is in effect, giving the brightest view of Mars.

"It will look very big and bright in the night sky over the next four-five days". As sunsets begin creeping up even earlier in late summer and early autumn, viewers will be able to see the planet higher in the evening sky.

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