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The Red Planet is about to be spectacular! This month and next, Earth is catching up with Mars in 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 before it happens again.

The encounter will culminate on August 27th when Mars comes to within 34,649,589 miles of Earth 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 the naked eye. Mars will be easy to spot. At the beginning of August it will rise in the east at 10p.m. and reach its azimuth at about 3 a.m. 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 12:30a.m. That's pretty convenient to see something that no human being 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.

Share this with your children and grandchildren.
This is being sent in forwards, and some sources say it's a hoax. The truth is that it might not happen again in our lifetimes, but in our children's. The rest is slightly exaggerated. It is still a spectacular event for anyone interested in the skies. Get your telescopes ready. This will be worth watching!

NASA says :
Mars will in fact pass close to Earth once again in 2005, although it will be at its closest on October 31st rather than August 27th. However, the red planet will not pass quite as close as it did in 2003. In 2003, Mars came within approximately 34 million miles of Earth. In late 2005 it will pass at about 43 million miles.
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