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How to watch Mars make its closest approach to Earth in years tonight

May 30th, 2016 at 11:07 AM
Mars Close Approach 2016

If you’re looking for a fun activity to add to your Memorial Day plans, here’s an easy one: look up. According to NASA, Mars will be making its closest approach to Earth since 2005 on May 30th, coming within 46.8 million miles of our planet.

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Although Mars has been appearing brighter than usual in the night sky since May 18th and will continue to do so until June 3rd, this Monday night at around midnight will be the best time to catch it at its largest (providing you’re in an area where you can actually see the night sky). Here’s a chart of the planet’s progress:

As NASA explains, because of the elliptical nature of the orbits of Earth and Mars, as well as the gravitational pull of other nearby planets, the shape of their orbits is constantly in flux. In other words, not all close approaches are the same, which is why we won’t see an approach as close as we did in 2003 until 2287.

Also, if you see any Facebook posts about Mars looking as large as the moon, don’t fall for it. NASA warns that if Mars were to ever get that close to Earth, we’d all be in a whole heap of trouble.

And finally, if for some reason you can’t find Mars in the sky tonight (or just can’t be bothered to go outside), know that an even closer approach will occur on July 31st, 2018 — just a little over two years from today.

Jacob started covering video games and technology in college as a hobby, but it quickly became clear to him that this was what he wanted to do for a living. He currently resides in New York writing for BGR. His previously published work can be found on TechHive, VentureBeat and Game Rant.

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