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Mars to be closest, brightest Jan 27

Filed on January 25, 2010

Skygazers will get to watch the red planet Mars from close quarters as it comes closest to Earth and shines brightest Jan 27. It will not be so close or so bright over the next two years.

Look towards the east an hour after sunset Jan 27 and Mars would be shining brighter than every other star in the sky except Sirius, which is slightly more dazzling in brilliant bluish white.

”Mars would be at opposition to Sun Jan 30 because of which it would be brightest and closest to earth Jan 27 than in the next two years,” N. Rathnasree, director Nehru Planetarium, told IANS.

If watched through a telescope, the planet will appear the biggest it will in the next two years.

”Mars will appear yellowish red to the naked eye. However, if seen through a telescope, one can appreciate ice caps in the northern tip of Mars,” said N.S. Raghunandan Kumar, general secretary of the Planetary Society of India.

Mars can be seen all through the night and will be easy to locate.

According to Kumar, a planet is at opposition when it is directly opposite the Sun from our viewpoint on Earth.

The next opposition of Mars will occur March 3, 2012 whereas the next time it comes closest to earth will be March 5, 2012. The last time it was close to Earth was Dec 24, 2007.

”On Jan 30, Sun, Earth and Mars would be opposite each other from our perspective. Mars will be fully illuminated by the Sun and will appear disc-like,” Kumar said.


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