Mars closest to Earth at 57m kilometres

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Mars will be closest to Earth on Tuesday, a phenomenon that occurs once in every 15 years.

An illustration showing Mars and the Moon in "opposition" to Earth.

The Red Planet will be visible over the night sky in bright shades of red and orange.

At 57.6 million kilometres apart, Mars will be closest to Earth today in over 15 years and while the best location to observe the celestial phenomenon is in the Southern Hemisphere, the red planet will be visible from most parts in India, albeit not as clearly as it would be from South Africa, Australia or South American countries. When Mars knocked on our door in 2003, it was the first time the Red Planet came that close in some 60,000 years, according to Space.com. We should be able to see Mars till September but it will appear smaller each passing day as it leaves the orbit closer to the Earth. Astronomers around the world trained their telescopes on the sky when Mars comes closer to Earth. Humanity will have to wait 269 years for Mars to get much closer, NASA says.

The planet will be at a distance of 35.8 million miles from Earth.

Mars will still be especially bright and close tonight, so make sure to look up! This year's opposition took place during the total lunar eclipse and blood moon, making the red planet appear dim.

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Like all other planets, Earth and Mars have elliptical orbits, meaning oval in shape.

NASA has captured many images of the planet-wide dust storm that has been affecting Mars since June this year.

A map of the sky that shows Mars and Saturn, as they can be seen from NY on July 31 at 11 pm. In August 2003, Mars was a smidge closer: 34.6 million miles (55.6 million km).

NASA is also providing a live stream of the Mars sighting from the Griffith Observatory.

But just in case you miss Mars Close Approach this year, the next one is scheduled to take place on October 6, 2020.

Transforming planets as a pre-cursor to colonisation is a staple of science fiction, and an aspiration for individuals including Elon Musk, whose company SpaceX uses images of terraforming Mars in its promotional material.

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