This month and next, Earth is catching
up with Mars, an encounter that
will culminate in the closest approach
between the two planets in
recorded history.

The next time Mars may come this close is in 2287.

Due to the way Jupiter's gravity tugs on Mars
and perturbs its orbit, astronomers can only be
certain that Mars has not come this close to
Earth in the last 5,000 years but it may be
as long as 60,000 years.

The encounter will culminate on August 27th
when Mars comes to within 34,649,589 miles
and will be (next to the moon) the brightest object
in the night sky. It will attain a magnitude of -2.9 and
will appear 25.11 arc seconds wide.

At a modest 75-power magnification Mars will
look as large as the full moon to he naked eye.

Mars will be easy to spot.
At the beginning of August Mars will rise
in the east at 10 p.m. and reach its azimuth at about 3 a.m.

But by the end of August when the two planets are closest,
Mars will rise at nightfall and reach its highest
point in the sky at 12:30 a.m.

That's pretty convenient when it comes to seeing
something that no human has seen in recorded history.

So, mark your calendar at the beginning of August
to see Mars grow progressively brighter and brighter
throughout the month.