Mars set to appear brighter tonight

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Called "Mars Madness", the presentation will cover the history of Martian exploration, explain why Mars is now so near to the Earth and touch on other visible planets.

Is 35.8 million miles the closest Mars has ever been to Earth?

This will be third and the last celestial treats - solar eclipse, lunar eclipse and brighter Mars - that were lined up in July.

Opposition to Mars is at its closest to the Sun every 15 to 17 years, when excellent views of the Red Planet from Earth can occur.

NASA's Earth-orbiting Hubble Space Telescope took this picture June 26, 2003 of Mars.

Proponents of terraforming Mars propose releasing gases from a variety of sources on the Red Planet to thicken the atmosphere and increase the temperature to the point where liquid water is stable on the surface. And with 37 percent of the Earth's gravity, life on Mars could also be quite fun.

The minimum distance from the Earth to Mars is about 33.9 million miles (54.6 million kilometers), and is rarely achieved.

The red planet is coming - closer, that is.

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Earth and Mars will come closer on Tuesday, July 31 than they have in 15 years.

Jan Cami, director of the Hume Cronyn Observeratory and an associate professor of astronomy at Western, told CBC's London Morning Tuesday that it's a big deal because Mars will be about 40-million kilometres closer than it comes in other close approaches.

The minimum distance from the Earth to Mars is about 33.9 million miles (54.6 million kilometers), and is rarely achieved. Using the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution spacecraft (MAVEN), NASA was able to get a better understanding of what that atmosphere looks like. Add a telescope and you can see a detailed view of the planet's surface and its polar caps.

For about two months between July 7 and September 7, Mars will glow even brighter, outshining Jupiter and earning the title of the fourth-brightest object in Earth's sky after Venus, the moon, and the sun.

By mid-August, Mars will lose its brightness, the planet and the Earth will be removed from each other, moving in their orbits around the Sun.

But just in case you miss Mars Close Approach this year, the next one is scheduled to take place on October 6, 2020.

Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles is the public viewing spot, where Mars can be seen with naked eye.