Monday evening into Tuesday morning, Earth and Mars will be 35.8 million miles from each other, the closest they have been since a 34.6-million-mile approach in August 2003, according to the observatory.
Terraforming or creating a habitable environment on Mars, that would allow humans to explore it without life support, is still a far-fetched dream, say scientists who found that existing technologies are incapable of forming an Earth-like atmosphere on the red planet.
The position of Mars as opposed to the earth in end-July is such that the fourth planet is only 5.7 crore kilometres from earth at its nearest approach.
The local stargazers are invited for a camp to witness the Red Planet from 7 pm to 10 pm tonight at the Colombo Campus grounds.
Whenever a planet is at Opposition, planet in question would be closest in its orbit to earth than any other time.
Mars was in opposition on July 27, while Saturn was in opposition a month earlier on June 27, so Earth has been getting spoiled with incredible glimpses of its neighboring planets in the past few months.
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Even though some water may have been discovered there, Mars has less than 1% of the atmospheric pressure of that on Earth. We are talking about a distance of 57.6 million kilometers.
Although now gas shell of Mars consists mainly of carbon dioxide, it is too thin, on the surface of the planet could exist with liquid water. Generally, the minimum distance from Mars to Earth is 55.7 million km whereas maximum distance planet Mars can be away from Earth is 401.3 Million Km. This type of proximity won't occur again until 2287.
That's because Earth's orbit around the sun is 365 days, but it takes Mars 687 days to take a lap around our star.
Although people viewing Mars from low latitudes and from the Southern Hemisphere will have the clearest view of the the Red Planet, Mars will be visible worldwide. It can be seen by the naked eye, but try looking with a good set of binoculars if you don't have a telescope handy. Add a telescope and you can see a detailed view of the planet's surface and its polar caps. Jupiter is almost as bright as Mars. Planet Mars can be spotted in the sky till end of year with more appreciable brightness till end of November 2018.
There are observational camps conducted by astronomers all over the world to observe this rare event.