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Mars Spectacular Coming Up Aug. 28


By James Donahue

June, 2005


Something is going on in our Solar System that will catch the eye of anybody lucky enough to get a clear view of the night sky during late August, and especially during the early morning hours of August 28, astronomers say.


It seems that Earth and Mars are racing around the same side of the Sun together, getting closer (within 34,649,589 miles) to each other than any time in recorded history. Also Mars will be very near to its closest point to the Sun, or at its perihelion, on that Aug. 28 date.


Because of this, the Red Planet will appear to us as a very bright star in the night sky, possibly only outshone by Venus and the Moon, according to an article in


One astronomer wrote that he believes Mars will be nearly as bright as the Moon that night, and may even look as large as the full moon to the naked eye. He said it will reach a magnitude of -2.9 and will appear 25.11 arc seconds wide.


Mars will rise in the east that night at about 10 p.m. and reach its azimuth at about 3 a.m. at least in the United States. If you sleep through the show, don’t worry. It will still be good for a few weeks.


By the end of August, when the two planets are at their closest point, Mars will rise at nightfall and reach its highest point in the sky just after midnight. The show will be going on all during the month of August.


This is an event never seen in history, and one that is not expected to occur again in our lifetime.

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