Washington, June 18: Star gazers could have a good view of the Red Planet next month as Mars is set to come to the closest point to Earth since 2003 when it reaches opposition with the Sun in late July.
This year, Mars opposition will occur on July 27, according to NASA.
During opposition, Mars is especially photogenic because it can be seen fully illuminated by the Sun as viewed from Earth.
“Since Mars and the Sun appear on opposite sides of the sky, we say that Mars is in ‘opposition’,” NASA explained.
Every 15 or 17 years, opposition occurs within a few weeks of Mars’ perihelion – the point in its orbit when it is closest to the Sun.
“An opposition can occur anywhere along Mars’ orbit. When it happens while the Red Planet is closest to the Sun (called ‘perihelic opposition’), Mars is particularly close to Earth,” NASA said.
On July 27, Mars will be in perihelic opposition, Express.co.uk reported on Sunday.
But some perihelic oppositions bring Earth and Mars closer together than others, the US space agency said.
The 2003 opposition was the closest approach in almost 60,000 years, it added.