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Mars at its brightest and closest to Earth on Mar 5

New Delhi, Mar 4 (): Mars, called as Red Planet pass closest to Earth and glow at its brightest this week. This event will happen on Monday Mar 5, 2012.

Mars is the planet orbiting the sun one step outward from Earth’s orbit. Earth takes one year to orbit the sun once. Mars takes about two years. The orbits of Earth and Mars are the reason Mars is one of the most fascinating planets to watch in our sky, and they are the reason Mars is sometimes bright and sometimes faint.

In positional astronomy, opposition defines that position of a celestial object when it is on the opposite side of the sun in the sky when viewed from earth as reference, director of NGO science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators, C B Devgun said.

Every 26 months, the orbits of Earth and Mars align such that the two planets form a relatively straight line with the sun. This cosmic event is called an opposition, because the Red Planet sits on the exact opposite side of Earth from the sun.

Nowadays, you can see a bright red dot in the winter skies in the east a few hours after sunset, which is the planet Mars.

On Sunday, Mars will be at opposition and on Monday, it will be closest to the Earth.

Though this can be seen with the naked eye, more accurate observations will always require a place away from city lights and the use of telescopes or binoculars.

“Mars will be brighter till end of April 2012. It will be visible in the night sky until February 2013 with decreasing brightness as it gets far from us as days pass by,” Devgun said.

The next Mars opposition will occur on April 8, 2014, whereas next closest approach is on April 14, 2014. The last time it was at opposition was on January 30, 2010.