Planet Mars reaches smallest distance from Earth in 2012 tonight, March 5 on BrowseBiography

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Planet Mars reaches smallest distance from Earth in 2012 tonight, March 5

Once every two years Mars' orbit brings it close to Earth allowing it to shine its biggest and brightest to the naked eye and telescope. Today, March 5th brings the evening when the Red Planet will reach its closest approach to Earth for 2012. Only 100.8 million kilometers will separate our two worlds as it just passes official opposition – when Mars is directly opposite the Sun from us only two days before on March 3. But it is not the closest distance March was from Earth: in 2003, Mars was at 56 million kilometers from Earth, the smallest distance the two planets in the last 60,000 years.


If you step outside on any clear night during this month, about a half hour after local sunset and look towards the east March will be in your vision, easy to spot as yellowish-orange light, shining brighter than anything else in that part of the sky, except for the Moon. While, the Red Planet will be visible all night long, its two satellites – Deimos and Phobos – won't be visible at all.


If you are having problems positively identifying Mars, then you will find the full moon conveniently sitting next to it on March 7 – both rising in the east around sunset. By local midnight you will find Mars shining high in the south.


The entire month of March, until end of April is your best bet in terms of observing the Red Planet through a telescope as the planetary disk will be big enough under high magnification to catch surface details on it. – after which you will have to wait until 2014 to get a better, bigger view.


Planet Mars reaches smallest distance from Earth in 2012 tonight, March 5

 
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