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Image courtesy NASA/JPL.
Mars Opposition on October 30, 2005
News story originally written on September 22, 2005
Sometimes Earth gets pretty close to the planet Mars. Mars and Earth will
be close to each other on October
30, 2005. Mars will look like a bright red star. Mars will be about 69 million
km (43 million miles) from Earth. Even when planets are "close" to each other,
they are still a long way apart!
Earth and Mars get pretty close together once every 26 months. When the two
planets get close, astronomers call the event an "opposition".
That is because the Sun and Mars are on opposite sides of the sky during an
orbit of Mars is not quite a circle.
It is shaped more like an oval.
Sometimes Earth gets closer to Mars than normal when Mars is at just the right
place in its orbit. When it does, we have a really "close" opposition.
Mars was really, really close to Earth in August
2003. It will be pretty close to Earth in October 2005.
Check out this movie of the orbits of Earth
and Mars to see where the planets are right now.
When Earth is close to Mars, Mars looks like a very bright star in the sky.
If you get a chance to see Mars through a telescope, it will look a bit bigger
than usual. If you want a really close-up view of Mars, though, the best way
to get that is to look at pictures from spacecraft orbiting
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