The red planet and the sun will be on exact opposite sides of Earth.
Look up Friday night and you won’t see only a full moon, but also an orange-red orb right next to it. That’s Mars.
Mars is in opposition Friday, which means that the red planet and the sun will be on opposite sides of Earth. It’s a phenomenon that happens about every two years, but this time Mars will be closer to Earth than it has been in 15 years.
As Mars makes its glowing appearance, some parts of the world will also see what astronomers say will be the longest total lunar eclipse of the century. The eclipse, which will last 1 hour and 43 minutes, won’t be visible in North America, according to EarthSky.org.
Mars will be closest to Earth around 1 a.m. July 31, at 35.8 million miles away.
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Since Mars will rise to its highest point later at night, the Goldendale Observatory southeast of Yakima is staying open until 2 a.m. July 27 to July 29.
Though an observatory will allow for a more detailed view, Mars is so bright and close that a basic telescope will do.
“Find an amateur with a telescope,” said Guy Worthey, an associate professor of astrophysics at Washington State University. “It does not have to be a big one. The two-inch department store one works pretty well for Mars.”
“I always get a thrill, because you can see features. You can see the dark patterns” on Mars, Worthey said.