Red Planet comes closer to Earth than since 2003 and Neanderthal Age

Mars making closest approach to Earth in 15 years

Mars shines brighter in evening sky

But some perihelic oppositions bring Earth and Mars closer together than others, the USA space agency said. Demeter said the best time to view the planet is from 10:30 p.m. through midnight.

When Mars and Earth are close to each other, Mars appears very bright in the sky.

It will be easy to spot Mars on Thursday night, not only because it will be shining brightly, but also because it will be sitting just below the almost full moon. The Sun ejects protons at speeds up to two million miles per hour (more than 3 million kilometers per hour) in an erratic flow called the solar wind.

By mid-August, the planet will become fainter as Mars and Earth travel farther away from each other in their orbits around the sun.

The red planet is easily visible with the naked eye, but folks with a telescope may be able to see some details of the planet, including the planet's ice caps, according to AccuWeather.

The next Mars close approach is October 6, 2020, NASA says. If the storm doesn't break, skywatchers may only see a big orange disk, according to Mike Lynch, an amateur astronomer and professional meteorologist writing for in Minneapolis. As they approach Mars, the protons coming in with the solar wind transform into neutral atoms by stealing electrons from the outer edge of the huge clouds of hydrogen surrounding the planet.

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It will also be important to be patient and comfortable. On Mars, they are the result of protons, and scientists have just figured out how the events happen.

Mars arrives at opposition on the same day as July's full moon. It willl only be visible to some parts of the world, including Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe and South America.

Since around July 7, Mars has been brighter than Jupiter, which is normally the second-brightest planet and fourth-brightest object in the sky. Only Venus will appear brighter.

A giant dust storm has covered Mars's entire surface and could last until September.

The days leading up to and just after July 27 will be prime days to view Mars.

The good news about all the Martian dust is that it reflects sunlight, which makes for an even brighter red planet, said Widener University astronomer Harry Augensen. Mars will remain visible in the night sky throughout the remainder of the summer and throughout the fall, but it will slowly get dimmer.

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