ROANOKE, Va. – If you notice a non-blinking red ‘star’ in the night sky the next few weeks, that would be our solar system’s next-door neighbor, Mars!
Mars is actually at its closest point to us (perigee) in its orbit around the sun Tuesday evening. This, according to Tony Rice who is an ambassador to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Even though it’s at its closest point to us, the red planet is still nearly 39 million miles away! This is the closest Mars has been to us in nearly two years, and it won’t get this close again until 2035.
Now, Mars won’t be at its brightest until October 13th when it’s at opposition (directly opposite the sun). The reason why opposition and perigee happen at different times is because our planets don’t orbit the sun in perfect circles. Earth’s orbit is more elliptical. Whereas our orbit lasts 365 days, it takes Mars 687 days to make a complete lap around the sun.