Mars to appear very bright in tonight's sky

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The red planet is making its closest approach to Earth in 15 years on Tuesday. Astronomers expect good viewing through early August.

Thickening Mars' atmosphere would be essential to keep liquid water on its surface, which would be essential for long-term colonisation. "And many people have noticed Mars rising in the East". In fact, the planet's best visibility is estimated to be from July 27 to July 30, meaning you still have tonight to experience a sight you wont get for at least another 15 years. It's like a star, but it's a planet.

If you missed it, don't believe any insane stories you may hear about its apparent size.

Perth and Hobart are forecast to have thick cloud and showers.

"If it's cloudy, we can not really use our telescopes to look at Mars". Just look out for the big red dot in the night sky and pray thunderstorms don't ruin your view. "So, unfortunately, if it's cloudy, direct observing is not possible".

Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) would be vital to do this, but they are not present on Mars in high enough quantities to provide any significant greenhouse warming, said Dr Bruce Jakovsky.

Astronomers around the world trained their telescopes on the sky on July 31, when the Red Planet was 35.8 million miles (57.6 million kilometers) away.

Jan Cami is the director of the Hume Cronyn Observatory at Western University and an associate professor in the physics and astronomy department. Also, there is a global dust storm going on on Mars, which by the way is not totally rare, and that will allow the planet to look even brighter.

Mars will next be close to Earth in October 2020. Global dust storms - lasting for weeks or months - tend to happen during the spring and summer in the southern hemisphere, when Mars is closest to the Sun and heating is at a maximum to generate winds. Unfortunately, a new study has just revealed that one of the more, uh, interesting ways of unlocking that Carbon dioxide will probably not do us any good.

NASA is soliciting expert designs for a potential manned mission to Mars - and beyond.