Skywatchers have another space event to look forward to this year as Mars is set to make its closest approach in more than a decade this upcoming Memorial Day Monday, May 30. Experts believe this will provide the best opportunity to view the Red Planet in a while.
Those who want to catch a glimpse of Mars next week should look out for the planet in the east-southeast sky. If you're lucky, the evening sky would be clear enough to let you see Mars in all of its fiery glory.
Despite being called the Red Planet, Mars' true colors is more akin to being yellow-orange, which is typically what a dry desert looks like under the scorching heat of the sun. However, if you look at Mars now during evenings, the planet would look like it has a topaz glow. This helps it appear brighter than any of the other celestial objects in its vicinity aside from the Earths' moon.
As Mars makes its approach to our planet from now until June 28, it will outshine the brightest stars, including Sirius, which is considered to be the most brilliant of all. On June 2, the Red Planet's brilliance will even rival that of Jupiter, the second-brightest planet in our skies after Venus.
According to NASA, Monday's event will see Mars reach within 46.8 million miles from Earth, which is the closest it has ever been to our planet since November 2005. This typically occurs every two years as the two planets' orbit around the Sun reach their closest points to one another.
The closest Mars has come to the Earth in recent times was in 2003, when the Red Planet reached the smallest distance to our planet in 60,000 years. Scientists, however, don't expect the two planets to get that close to each other again until August 2287.
While Mars will be visible to the naked eye next week, experts advise space fans to use a telescope to get the best view of the Red Planet. The planet will appear larger than normal but not to the extent that it will come anywhere near the size of the Earth's moon.