Mars comes close to Earth


New Delhi : Sky-watchers had a good day out Wednesday as Mars came closest to Earth since 2003 and was visible to the naked eye from the eastern sky.

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Astronomers said Mars’ closeness to Earth would remain a record at least till 2016. Currently, Mars is some 87 million km away from Earth and experts say it is pretty close.

Nehru Planetarium director N. Rathnasree said Mars was closest to Earth at 5.30 in the morning and sky-gazers across the country also witnessed it in the evening.

“As seen from Earth, we have the Sun on one side and Mars on the other side,” Rathnasree said, adding that though the brightness of the planet may not be as much as on Wednesday, it would be visible in the eastern sky for the next few days as well.

Though sky-gazers in the national capital could not manage to see the planet due to clouds and mist, many others across the country enjoyed the view.

“I learned about the celestial development from TV news and saw it with naked eyes this evening. It is bright and different than other planets. It was looking like an orange in the sky,” said Manas Kumar Pradhan, a teacher in Bhubaneswar.

Normally, the red planet moves closer to Earth every two years and two months, the time it takes to move around the Sun. Earth goes around the sun twice as fast as Mars, lapping the red planet about every two years

Both planets have elliptical orbits, so their close encounters are not always at the same distance.