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Red Planet

Mars To Get Closest In Recorded History In 2003, Nov 8, 2002

Mars recently emerged into the morning sky and has begun an orbital dance with Earth that will, over the next several months, lead to the best viewing opportunity since Neanderthals looked skyward. We're not kidding. To get ready for this momentous skywatching event, now would be a fine time to reacquaint yourself with the Red Planet. All during the summer of 2002 Mars was pretty much out of view because of its close proximity to the Sun. But during the latter part of September it began to emerge back into view in the morning sky and is in full view, though for now it appears rather small in the sky and low on the horizon. However, this is only the beginning of what will turn out to be the most dramatic and spectacular Mars apparition you or any of your ancestors has ever had a chance to see. The Red Planet is getting progressively closer to Earth with each passing night, and consequently it will slowly appear to grow larger and brighter. By late August 2003, when it will be about 191 million miles closer, the reddish point of light in our night sky will appear more than six times larger and shine some 85 times brighter than it appears now.