This Week's Excuse: It's the Closest We've Been to Mars in 15 Years

And the closest we'll be for another 269.
August 1, 2018, 12:52am
Image via Wikimedia Commons

You’ve already missed its closest point, which was early Wednesday morning, but Mars is still closer than it’s been in 15 years. That’s just 57.6 million kilometres from Earth, which is close enough for the planet to appear bright and red in the sky, without twinkling.

The last time it strayed so close was in August 2003, when it came slightly closer at 55.6 million kilometres—yes, two million kilometres is considered “slight” in space terms. And according to NASA, the next time it’ll get this close again will be 2287, an entire 269 years from now.

So why is any of this in some way meaningful? Well, there’s two reasons. The first is boring and scientific, while the second is exciting nonsense.

On the science side of things, not all close approaches between Mars and Earth are equal. Both planets have elliptical orbits (meaning their orbits are oblong-shaped) while they also tilt slightly towards each other. Every two years Mars ends up on one side of the Earth, while the Sun is on the other. Astronomers call this “opposition,” and right now, Mars is at its closest opposition to Earth since 2003. For astronomers this is a big deal, as it means views of the red planet are at their best. Mars is currently shining in the sky at a magnitude of minus 2.8, which is about twice the brightness of Jupiter, even though Jupiter is far, far bigger.

And what does all this mean for re-charging your crystals? Well, that’s harder to pin down.

Some astrologist named Leslie Benson told INSIDER that the whole thing will create an opportunity for growth. “We've got a huge opportunity to transform and rewrite our stories around our relationship to masculine energy, both external and internal, our free will, sexuality, and our capacity to do conflict in a healthy way," she explained. "Not all conflict is bad."

So take what you want from that... and enjoy the night sky. Mars will continue to be just about the brightest object until September 7.