Tags: NASA | Space.com | earth | Mars | sun

Orange Sky Predicted When Mars, Earth, Sun Align Tonight

Tuesday, 08 Apr 2014 12:33 PM

By Melissa Clyne

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A close encounter will occur tonight when Mars, Earth and the sun will be arranged in a nearly straight line, shining a vibrant burnt orange color, according to NASA.

The celestial event, known as "opposition," happens about every 26 months. It’s when Mars and the sun are on opposite sides of the sky. Mars is illuminated nearly 10 times brighter than the most brilliant stars, NASA reports.

"Earth and Mars are like runners on a track," the NASA report says. "Earth is on the inside, Mars is on the outside. Every 26 months speedy earth catches up to slower Mars and laps it. Opposition occurs just as Earth takes the lead."

In 2003, Mars made its closest approach to Earth in 50,000 years. Tonight’s opposition "is much more run-of-the mill – not historic, but beautiful."

On April 14-15, the same night as a total lunar eclipse, the distance between Mars and Earth will be just 57 million miles, just more than half the 93 million mile distance between Earth and the sun, Space.com reported.

"Weather permitting, observers could see a blood-red appear to glide just south of ruddy Mars as it passes through Earth's shadow in the late-night sky," according to the site.

Starting about 2 a.m. eastern time on April 15, "the moon will turn a Martian-looking red during the eclipse due to light from the sun shining through the Earth's atmosphere."

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