The red planet, Mars, will reach its nearest point to Earth on Friday, Qatar Calendar House (QCH) has said.
QCH astronomy expert Dr Beshir Marzouk has explained in a statement that the celestial phenomenon – known as ‘opposition’ - is important because Mars will be reaching its nearest point to Earth Friday and will appear brighter and bigger than on other days.
Moreover, it will be the “best time” to see the red planet with the naked eye or through astronomical telescopes, according to Dr Marzouk.
During the ‘opposition’, the centres of three celestial objects (Sun, Earth and Mars) will be aligned on a straight line, with Earth coming between Sun and Mars.
Residents of Qatar will be able to view Mars as a red point from sunset time Friday until sunrise time Saturday. The rising time of Mars over the eastern horizon will be 7.09pm in Doha, with the planet reaching its highest point in the sky at midnight before continuing to move towards the western horizon. The setting time for Mars on Saturday will be 4.58am, Dr Marzouk adds.
According to information available online, this is the closest that Mars will come to Earth in 15 years – a distance of around 57.6mn km. According to Nasa, Mars was 55.8mn km from Earth during the ‘opposition’ in 2003. This was the closest the two planets had come to each other in almost 60,000 years, and this record will not be broken until August 28, 2287.
The red planet was last at ‘opposition’ with the Sun on May 22, 2016, and it will happen again on October 13, 2020, QCH adds.
Sky watchers and astronomers are in for a double treat as they can also view the longest lunar eclipse of the century Friday evening. The total lunar eclipse will be visible throughout much of Asia (including Qatar), Africa, Europe, Australia and South America.
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