Astronomers and stargazers will get a chance to get up close and personal with Mars over the next six weeks, as the Earth passes between the Red Planet and the sun.

Mars will make its closest swing toward Earth, bringing it closer and appearing brighter, than it has in the past 15 years.

In 2003, Mars came within 56.1 million kilometers of Earth, the closest it had come in 60,000 years, according to the Weather Channel.

This year the two planets won’t get quite as cozy. The Weather Channel said Mars will appear the brightest to Earth stargazers on July 31, when the two planets are just 57.6 million kilometers apart.

How large Mars appears in the sky to people on Earth depends on where the two neighboring planets are in their elliptical journey. While it takes Earth 365 days to orbit the sun, it takes Mars almost twice as long, or 687 days.

In 2016, the planets were at the opposite ends of their orbits, with 75.6 million kilometers between them, making Mars appear very small.

The next time Mars comes this close to Earth will be in March 2035.


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