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See Mars Get Super-Close to Us, at Griffith Observatory

The "Mars Close Approach" is happening on the final Monday in July.

What to Know

  • Monday, July 30 into Tuesday, July 31
  • 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
  • Free

Now, hold up.

Let's clarify what we mean by "super-close" when we say that Mars will get super-close to our own planet on the final Monday of July 2018.

Can you reach out and touch it? Ha.

If you threw a soccer ball high in the air, would it bounce off the Red Planet? Oh heck nope.

Is Mars going to be the nearest it will be to Earth on that date... for another 17 years?

That's a big yes.

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Which means if you miss it you'll have to wait another decade, then another half decade, then about two years on top of that, to see our neighbor cozy up to us, in the cosmic sense, even as it remains millions of miles away from our own terra firma.

As in 35.8 million miles, which is, all told, quite close, when you consider the vastness of the universe.

The people at Griffith Observatory are super-stoked about this super-close-a-tude event, as one might guess, so they're throwing a public viewing event, with telescopes, on Monday, July 30. 

And, as is the observatory's delightful way, this event shall be free.


Also cool? Mars doesn't seem to be the kind of planet that gets a case of the Mondays, since this is all happening partially on a Monday.

And are there even Mondays on Mars? Cue the thinking emoji.

The Griffith Observatory viewing event also shall be on the late side, at least for a school night: It begins at 10 p.m., and wraps at 2 a.m., and if you can't get up to the astronomical institution, you can watch the Mars action live, online, via a Griffith Observatory feed.

Now are you ready to get super-super-stoked?

Check it out: "The moment of closest approach is 12:45 a.m. on Tuesday, July 31. By a celestial coincidence, at the moment of closest approach Mars will be at the very best position for viewing from a telescope from Los Angeles."

Well aren't you the sweetest, Mars. Thanks bunches.

One note? The observatory stresses that the Red Planet's appearance will remain consistent throughout. This isn't an eclipse, but an opportunity to observe Mars in a deeper way.

The last time the Red Planet was very, very close to we Mars-admiring earthlings was in August 2003, when Mars and Earth stood at 34.6 million miles apart, which is basically as snug as two planets... in... a galactic rug?

You get us.

The next date for super-close-o-sity, if the July 30-31 event has you wanting more?

Best buy a calendar for 2035, and circle Sept. 11, for that's when Mars and Earth will be only an incredibly short 35.4 million miles away from one another.

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