While Mars will be close, it's still some 54,700,00 kms from earth.
While Mars will be close, it's still some 54,700,00 kms from earth. NASA / HUBBLE / HANDOUT

MARS OPPOSITION: Planet's closest swing in 15-years

STARGAZERS and astronomy enthusiasts prepare yourselves.

This month Mars will swing by earth on July 27 at its closest distance in 15 years.

It's an event known as the Mars Opposition.

The last time the planets came this close was in 2003 when observers caught a clear glimpse on the Martian polar ice caps and land formations.

Kingaroy Observatory owner and astronomer James Barclay said this time would be even more spectacular, although that depends on whether the Martian planet's dust storms clear.

"Until the dust storm that has been swirling around the planet for the past month settles, it's anyone's guess as to how it will appear," Mr Barclay said.

While Mars will be close, it's still some 54,700,00 kms from earth.

Unfortunately, if you don't have a telescope the planet will simply appear as a bright star in the sky.

But if you do have access to a telescope, Jupiter and Saturn will also be visible.

On the same night, a lunar eclipse will take place but due to timing, it won't be visible from the Eastern side of Australia.

Kingaroy Observatory is holding a special event, allowing stargazers to peer through the observatory's powerful telescopes.

Various time slots are on offer along with a two hour show.

Call 4164 5595 or head to www.kingaroyobservatory.com for more information. 

Mars facts

  • Mars is the fourth planet from the sun and is significantly smaller than earth.
  • It takes Mars 687 days to orbit the sun, travelling at an average speed of 24km/s
  • The planet's make up is 96% carbon dioxide, 2% argon, 2% nitrogen and 1% other
  • On Mars, you'd experience 62.5% less gravity than you're used to.

Source: NASA



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