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Why Mars looks brighter in the night sky

Take a look at the night sky tonight, July 31, 2018. You'll be able to see Mars looking bigger and brighter. It's a rare occurrence that won't happen again until 2020.
Image Credit: PIXABY
July 31, 2018 - 11:30 AM

Stargazers are in for a treat tonight.

Mars will appear brighter and bigger in our night sky tonight, July 31, because of a rare occurrence called Mars Close Approach. Mars has been appearing brighter than usual since July 27, but tonight is the planet's closest approach to Earth. 

This is the point when Mars' orbit comes closest to our planet meaning it will be visible for much of the night. According to NASA, the Red Planet will be at a distance of 57.6 million kilometres.

By mid-August, NASA says Mars will become fainter as the planet and Earth travel away from each other.

Mars will be visible with a telescope or the naked eye by looking south, but it will not be as big as the moon as one urban legend says.

"If that were true, we'd be in big trouble given the gravitational pulls on Earth, Mars and our Moon," NASA says.

The next Mars Close Approach will occur on Oct. 6, 2020.

Planning to try and get some photos of the Mars Close Approach? Check out this quick guide to help you get more out of your night sky photos.

Mars' closest approach to Earth is July 31, 2018. That is the point in Mars' orbit when it comes closest to Earth. Mars will be at a distance of 57.6 million kilometers.
Mars' closest approach to Earth is July 31, 2018. That is the point in Mars' orbit when it comes closest to Earth. Mars will be at a distance of 57.6 million kilometers.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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