Look up! Mars’ orbit at its closest point to Earth tonight

Look up to the stars tonight to see Mars, as our neighboring planet’s orbit is at its closest point to Earth.

Mars will be about 38.6 million miles away, according to NASA, the closest it will be to us until Dec. 8, 2022.

The Red Planet should be visible for most of the night and at its highest point around midnight.

“This time of excellent Mars viewing coincides with opposition, when Mars is directly on the opposite side of Earth from the sun,” said NASA. “During this opposition, Mars and Earth are closest to each other in their orbits. That means Mars is at its brightest, so go out and take a look!”

The event is referred to as Mars Close Approach, meaning that Earth and Mars' orbits are at their closest points to each other, according to NASA. It takes place nearly every 26 months, making the next best time to see the planet in December 2022.

The closest distance between Mars and Earth is around 33.9 million miles, according to NASA. However, because the planets' have egg-shaped orbits and also face the gravitational pull of other planets, the two planets are rarely that close to each other.

“In 2003, Mars made its closest approach to Earth in nearly 60,000 years,” NASA reported. “It won’t be that close again until the year 2287.”

Because the planets are at their closet to each other it also means this is a good time for space programs to go to Mars, according to NASA.

The Perseverance rover is on its way to Mars and is scheduled to land on Feb. 18, 2021. Multiple other counties reportedly also have spacecrafts headed to the planet.

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