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Mars came to within just 57.6 mil­lion km of Earth, which is the near­est the pair has been for 15 years

Sky at Night Magazine - - MARS UPDATE -

JULY

Mars was at op­po­si­tion – when the Sun, Earth and Mars align in that or­der – on 27 July. The planet was a mere 57.6 mil­lion km from Earth, the near­est it has come since 2003. Dur­ing op­po­si­tion, Mars ap­pears big­ger and brighter in the night sky. UK sky watch­ers were treated to a rare sight on the day of op­po­si­tion when the Red Planet was briefly vis­i­ble along­side the red Moon of a lu­nar eclipse – in the few places that weren’t com­pletely clouded out, that is.

One tele­scope that doesn’t have to worry about bad weather is the Hub­ble Space Tele­scope. It took ad­van­tage of the close pass to snap a new pair of ‘fam­ily pho­tos’ of both the Red Planet and Saturn, which was also go­ing through op­po­si­tion. The planet’s fea­tures are slightly blurred in the photo, but not by the see­ing that of­ten af­fects images of Mars taken from in­side Earth’s at­mos­phere. In­stead, the haze of a giant dust storm on Mars was to blame.

Mars on the day of op­po­si­tion, shrouded in a mas­sive dust storm, cap­tured by Hub­ble

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