The red planet, Mars will make the closest approach to Earth in the last fifteen years, next week. One can catch Mars in the night sky when the two planets will be just 57.6 million kilometres apart on 31st July.
Before that, the red planet will be in opposition this Friday when there will be a total lunar eclipse. That means Mars and the sun will be on exact opposite sides of Earth.
However, a massive dust storm presently engulfing Mars is obscuring surface details normally visible through telescopes. The Martian atmosphere is so full of dust that NASA’s Opportunity rover can’t recharge its solar panels and so it’s been silent since June.
The good news about all the Martian dust is that it reflects sunlight, which makes for an even brighter red planet, said a Widener University astronomer. The total lunar eclipse on Friday will be visible in Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe and South America.