Mars-Earth Closest Approach In 10 Years Recorded; When Will The Red Planet Get Closer Again?By Vinay Patel, UniversityHerald Reporter
Looks like a good news for those who missed the Red Planet's closest approach towards Earth in 11 years as the next Mars close approach is expected to happen soon.
On May 30 at around 12 midnight, Mars came close to Earth, in fact the red planet was only 46.8 million miles (75.3 million kilometers) away from the planet we call our home. This marks the point in Mars' orbit when it comes closest to Earth. This year the planet Mars will occur the brightest from May 18 to June 3, NASA reported.
The calculations provided by the U.S. space agency hint this is definitely not the last time Mars approached towards Earth, the red planet could repeat the action soon. In fact, the next occurrence could be as early as July 31, 2018 and this distance between the two planets is estimated to be just 35.8 million miles.
Mars has gradually moved close to Earth, especially in the past few month, but will vanish into the distance in time to come. The pinnacle of the red planet's close approach to earth was on Thursday, May 30.
Rumors doing rounds online recently have indicated that Mars will abruptly expand, balloon-like into the sky, giving an appearance of a big red moon. Gizmodo debunked these speculations noting that neither has this ever happened in the past, nor there is any possibility of this happening in future. In fact, Mars will never look anywhere as big as the Moon.
NASA ruled out the possibility of Mars replicating the size of the Moon as well, noting that an increase in the planet's size coupled with the bloody Red effect could only hint catastrophe, and that too of biblical proportions. However, this is highly unlikely to happen.
Considering the gravitational pulls on our Moon, Earth and Mars, if the red planet ever starts appearing as big as the Moon in our night sky, it would only spell trouble for us, the space agency noted.
NASA scientists unanimously agreed that the 2003 Mars-Earth close encounter was an event when Mars and Earth were separated by the shortest gap observed in the last 60,000 years, and this is likely to be repeated in 2287 - considering that's nearly three centuries to wait, enjoying what we are treated to at the moment, makes a lot of sense.
Mars is expected to continue being a nightly spectacle for this week. To track the planet at midnight, simply look south and find the bright star Antares in the constellation Scorpius. Mars can be seen just above the constellation's head, towards the right of Antares.