View Mars at UT observatory as red planet comes closest to Earth in 15 years

July 23, 2018 | Events, News, UToday, Natural Sciences and Mathematics
By Christine Billau

Mars will be visible to the naked eye in late July as the planet approaches its closet point to Earth since 2003 — 35.8 million miles away.

Astronomers at The University of Toledo are hosting Mars Watch 2018 to share the UT telescope with the public for a view of what is called opposition, the point when Mars and the sun are on directly opposite sides of the Earth as the planets orbit around the sun.

“Due to the orbit of Mars and Earth, Mars is really only well-placed for observing from Earth for a month or two every two years or so,” Alex Mak, associate director of UT Ritter Planetarium, said. “The end of July and early August mark one of those opportunities.”

The Brooks Observatory in McMaster Hall will be open to the public for four nights — from 9:30 to 10:30 p.m. Thursday, July 26; Monday, July 30; Tuesday, July 31; and Wednesday, Aug. 1. Visitors are invited to meet in the lobby of McMaster Hall, where they will be guided up to the observatory.

“Mars is the planet that has fascinated humanity for the longest,” Mak said. “From its retrograde motion in the sky and its blood red color to the question of whether Mars has or had life, it is a planet that has never failed to make us wonder.”

The event is dependent on clear skies.

Admission is $2 for adults and $1 for children 5 through 12. Children 4 and younger are admitted free.

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