*The Red Planet is about to be spectacular! This month and next, Earth
is catching up with Mars in an encounter that will culminate in the
closest approach between the two planets in recorded history.
The next time Mars may come this close is in 2287. Due to the way
Jupiter's gravity tugs on Mars and perturbs its orbit, astronomers can
only be certain that Mars has not come this close to Earth in the Last
5,000 years, but it may be as long as 60,000 years before it happens
The encounter will culminate on August 27th when Mars comes to within
34,649,589 miles of Earth and will be (next to the moon) the brightest
object in the night sky. It will attain a magnitude of -2.9 and will
appear 25.11 arc seconds wide. At a modest 75-power magnification.
This happened in 2003 and will not happen again in your lifetime but
seems to be revived each year. On the good side mars will be almost as
close in 15 years which some of us may see.