Monday, July 10, 2006
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 isin 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 again. The encounter will culminate on August 27th whenMars comes to within 34,649,589 miles of Earth andwill be (next to the moon) the brightest object in the night sky. It will attain a magnitude of -2.9and will appear 25.11 arc seconds wide. At a modest75-power magnification
Mars will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye.
Mars will be easy to spot. At the
beginning of August it will rise in the east at 10p.m.
and reach its azimuth at about 3 a.m.
By the end of August when the two planets are
closest, Mars will rise at nightfall and reach its
highest point in the sky at 12:30a.m. That's pretty
convenient to see something that no human being has
seen in recorded history. So, mark your calendar at
the beginning of August to see Mars grow
progressively brighter and brighter throughout the
Share this with your children and grandchildren.
NO ONE ALIVE TODAY WILL EVER SEE THIS AGAIN
Thanks Barry & Louise D.
Here is a little information regarding Mars close encounter with Earth. The story keeps going round and round.
Someone has recently resurrected and sent off this message and it is once again being passed from inbox to inbox. Although the year is not specifically mentioned in the message, recipients may naturally assume that it is referring to the current year, 2005. The events outlined in the message were more or less true back in 2003 although they were a little hyped even then.
According to NASA, on August 27, 2003, Earth and Mars were the closest they have been for around 60,000 years. Mars was indeed a spectacular site in the night sky during several months of 2003.However, this fact is not quite as earth shattering as you might think. A 2003 NASA article on the subject explains that:
Much has been made of the fact that the August 27th encounter with Mars is the closest in some 60,000 years. Neanderthals were the last to observe Mars so favorably placed. This is true. It's also a bit of hype. Mars and Earth have been almost this close many times in recent history.
Mars will in fact pass close to Earth once again in 2005, although it will be at its closest on October 31st rather than August 27th. However, the red planet will not pass quite as close as it did in 2003. In 2003, Mars came within approximately 34 million miles of Earth. In late 2005 it will pass at about 43 million miles.In reality, this distance gap will probably not make a great deal of difference to casual observers on the ground. Mars will still be a spectacular and compelling site in the night sky in late 2005 in spite of the fact that it will not be quite as close to Earth as it was in 2003. What's more, these close encounters are not such uncommon events.Thus the claim that "NO ONE ALIVE TODAY WILL EVER SEE THIS AGAIN!" is a little misleading. It is true that the next time Mars will be as close to earth as it was in 2003 will be on August 28, 2287. In the mean time however, there will be plenty of other close approaches, so our children and our children's children are not likely to miss out altogether.Perhaps by 2287 some of our descendents will be observing the close encounter from the Martian perspective.
Thanks Bob H.