How to see Mars opposition and blood moon eclipse with no telescope

28 July, 2018, 08:00 | Author: Jacqueline Daniels
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Mars' orbit has been getting closer to the Earth's, leading to great visibility for the end of July. Its closest approach to Earth is July 31. Mars made its closest approach to Earth in almost 60,000 years back in 2003, when its center was 34,646,418 miles from Earth's. These two planets do come nearly this close after every 15 to 17 years.

"Even with bright moonlight, you can't miss Mars", Samuhel said.

"Mars and Earth come into alignment about every two years when they are both on the same side of the sun, which causes Earth and Mars to be closer to each other", said Higgins.

If the weather does not cooperate for stargazers, there should still be plenty of opportunities to see the planet in the coming weeks. The next close approach, meanwhile, in 2020, will be 38.6 million miles (62 million kilometers), according to NASA.

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The gravitational pull by other planets also constantly changes the shape of their orbits a little bit, with Jupiter especially influencing the path that Mars takes around the Sun.

Mars will rise in the southeast around sunset and slowly track across the sky throughout the night before setting to the southwest around sunrise, local time.

In 2018, Mars will appear brightest from July 27 to July 30.

The Red Planet will be just 35.8 million miles away from humanity's homeworld next Tuesday.

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Clouds will interfere with onlookers across the eastern United States on Thursday night and early Friday morning due to the wet weather pattern that has set up over the region. Viewers in the USA will not be able to see the lunar eclipse.

But some perihelic oppositions bring Earth and Mars closer together than others, the USA space agency said.

"It will appear to be a very bright orange star and you'll be able to watch it creep across the sky", said Kelly. Areas from the Plains to the West would have the best view of Mars as it passes Earth. NASA says an approach that close won't happen again until 2287.

However, there is a global dust storm obscuring the red planet that could continue through August and into September. It also coincides with the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century, which will last 1 hour, 43 minutes. North America is the only continent on Earth from which the eclipse will not be visible.

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