The Red Planet (Mars) is currently in closer alignment with the earth than it has been in the last dozen years or so. This is a momentous occasion.
Mars is getting closer and closer to the big blue marble that is our own planet earth. This will be its nearest orbit in the past 11 years. When the stargazers will look up in the sky by the end of May, they will see it in close proximity to the earth. It will be a wonder to behold.
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The two planets will have an alignment that will make Mars appear bigger and more illumined than it was previously. The 22nd of May will be the auspicious occasion. The Red Planet, which gave the term “martians” to us earthlings, will be 47 million miles from the earth.
A week after the event, the planet will move even closer thereby raising heartbeats among the skygazers. Midnight will be not just the witching hour but the hour of truth as Mars comes the closest it ever was to the earth in about a dozen years. Mars will also be very close to the sun during the time of its alignment.
Earth meanwhile will be the middle planet between Mars and the sun. However, with the naked eye alone, there will be little difference in the appearance or brightness of Mars. The Red Planet is best seen through a telescope or pair of binoculars.
The next chance to view a similar close-up sight will be in 2018. It is hoped that in future times, Mars and earth will be even more in propinquity with each other. That will be a cause for celebration for all amateur and professional astronomers.
Mercury is also set to make a transition near the sun. It will in fact look like a black spot with the sun’s fiery surface as a canvas in the background. That will definitely be a sight to watch with glee and sheer pleasure.
The previous instance of Mercury’s transit was in 2006. As for the next time, it will be in 2019. After that 2032 will be the date that will coincide with this event further in time.
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According to NASA, such happenings occur merely a dozen or more times per century. Whatever the case, both Mars and Mercury will present a curious picture and all those enthusiasts who wonder at the heavens above will gather to have their fill of absolute wonderment.