Today Earth and Mars will be closer together than at any time during the last 12 years. Stargazers won’t want to miss the Red Planet blazing bright in the midnight sky. Check most any astronomer’s 2001 calendar and you’ll find June 21st circled. It’s a big day for astronomy! For starters, June 21st marks the beginning of northern summer and the longest day of the year north of the equator. The Sun will climb to its highest point in the sky at 7:38 UT (3:38 EDT), a moment known as the summer solstice.