Mars will be much closer to Earth this week than it will be for 15 years

According to NASA, Mars is going to be much closer to planet Earth this week than it will be for the next 15 years, so be sure to schedule in some planet-gazing.

There’s something deeply surreal and humbling about looking up at the galaxy. All those planets and stars, light years away… That’s why when a planet comes closer into view than usual, it’s our pleasure to give you the heads up.

The red planet, also known as Elon Musk’s Earth 2, is treating us all to a public viewing this week. Mars is currently just north of our equator, which is good news for stargazers worldwide (literally), as viewers in both of Earth’s hemispheres will able to get a good look!

Photo: NASA

According to the brains over at NASA, Mars will be orbiting 62.07 million kilometres from our home planet, the closest it will be in 15 years. Due to the brightness of Mars (our fourth planet from the sun), it should be visible from the southern sky even with the naked eye. Sure, the view won’t be as spectacular as the ‘Super Hi-Vision’ cameras coming to Mars soon, but at least it’ll be free.

But still, this doesn’t answer the question: when is the best time to crack open the wine, climb on the roof, and test out your astrophysicist vocabulary? Well, tonight! Midnight to be specific, as that will be when the planet reaches its highest point.

“The time of excellent Mars viewing coincides with opposition, when Mars is directly on the opposite side of Earth from the Sun. This lineup happens about every two years”, NASA’s Science Mars Exploration Program explains.

You’ve only got one shot to catch Mars though. After this week, the planet will fade into black, continuing its own orbit around the sun. Best of luck, fellow stargazer.

Up Next: Mars retrograde is officially here, so what should you expect?