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Red Planet: Mars to Come Closest to Earth in 15 Years Next Month

On July 27, Mars will be in perihelic opposition, Express.co.uk reported on Sunday

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Red Planet: Mars to Come Closest to Earth in 15 Years Next Month. Pixabay
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Star gazers could have a good view of the Red Planet next month as Mars is set to come to the closest point to Earth since 2003 when it reaches opposition with the Sun in late July.

This year, Mars opposition will occur on July 27, according to NASA.

During opposition, Mars is especially photogenic because it can be seen fully illuminated by the Sun as viewed from Earth.

“Since Mars and the Sun appear on opposite sides of the sky, we say that Mars is in ‘opposition’,” NASA explained.

Also Read: Survival Of Mars Rover Is Under Threat Due To A Sandstorm

Every 15 or 17 years, opposition occurs within a few weeks of Mars’ perihelion – the point in its orbit when it is closest to the Sun.

“An opposition can occur anywhere along Mars’ orbit. When it happens while the Red Planet is closest to the Sun (called ‘perihelic opposition’), Mars is particularly close to Earth,” NASA said.

On July 27, Mars will be in perihelic opposition, Express.co.uk reported on Sunday.

But some perihelic oppositions bring Earth and Mars closer together than others, the US space agency said.

The 2003 opposition was the closest approach in almost 60,000 years, it added. (IANS)

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A Close Planet Orbiting A Star Dubbed As ‘Super-Earth’

The researchers studied the planet by combining measurements from several high-precision instruments mounted on telescopes around the world.

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An artistic impression of a sunset from Barnard's Star on a newly detected planet dubbed a "Super-Earth," in this handout illustration provided Nov. 14, 2018. VOA

A frozen and dimly lit planet, dubbed a “Super-Earth,” may be orbiting the closest single star to our solar system, astronomers said Wednesday, based on two decades of scientific observations.

The planet, estimated to be at least 3.2 times more massive than Earth, was spotted circling Barnard’s Star, a type of relatively cool and low-mass star called a red dwarf. Barnard’s Star is about 6 light-years away from our solar system, comparatively close in cosmic terms, and it’s believed that the planet obits this star every 233 days.

Planets orbiting stars beyond our solar system are called exoplanets. Nearly 4,000 have been discovered. The newly discovered one is the second closest to our solar system ever found. It is thought to be a “Super-Earth,” a category of planets more massive than Earth but smaller than the large gas planets.

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This opens up the prospect that life could be possible throughout a wider range of other universes, if they exist, the researchers said. Pixabay

“After a very careful analysis, we are 99 percent confident that the planet is there,” researcher Ignasi Ribas of the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia and the Institute of Space Sciences said in a statement. “However, we’ll continue to observe this fast-moving star to exclude possible, but improbable, natural variations of the stellar brightness which could masquerade as a planet.”

Alpha Centauri

The only closer stars than Barnard’s Star are part of the triple-star system Alpha Centauri, located a bit more than 4 light-years from our solar system.

Two years ago, astronomers announced the discovery of a roughly Earth-sized planet circling Proxima Centauri, part of the Alpha Centauri system, in an orbit that might enable liquid water to exist on its surface, raising the possibility that it could harbor alien life.

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Astronomers discover ancient star formed by Big Bang, pixabay

The newly detected planet orbiting Barnard’s Star may not be so hospitable, with surface temperatures of perhaps minus 274 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 170 degrees Celsius). Barnard’s Star provides the frigid planet only 2 percent of the energy that the sun provides Earth.

Also Read: NASA’s Ralph Will Explore Jupiter’s Trojan Asteroids In 2021

The researchers studied the planet by combining measurements from several high-precision instruments mounted on telescopes around the world.

The research was published in the journal Nature. (VOA)