The red planet, already intense, is about to get much brighter. Step outside tonight around midnight and look east. About halfway up the sky you’ll see the planet Mars. It looks like an intense red star, the brightest light in the midnight sky other than the Moon. Here’s the amazing part: Between now and the end of October, Mars, already so bright, will double in brightness again. Imagine that. Mars is getting brighter for the simple reason that it’s getting closer. Earth and Mars have been converging for months and on Oct. 30th at 0319 Universal Time, the two worlds will be just 69 million kilometers apart — the closest approach of Mars and Earth for the next 13 years.
September 22nd, 2005
Mars Doubles in Brightness Red Nova
November 25th, 2004
Russia Plans Mars Moon Mission Red Nova
Russia’s space program is unlikely to launch a planetary mission before 2009 because of cash shortages, a top scientist told AFP. The unmanned mission will aim to land on Phobos, a moon orbiting Mars, and a mission to the Earth’s Moon is unlikely in the near future, said Eric Galimov, planetologist and director of the V.I. Vernandsky Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry at the Russian Academy of Sciences.