Close Encounter With Mars

The Red Planet hasn't come this near for 60,000 years, and it's triggering a worldwide Mars mania

Night after night, the red beacon shining in the southern sky has been growing brighter. Residents of even light-polluted metropolises, whose experience with celestial lights is usually limited to the moon, Venus and airplanes, will get their best view yet of the planet Mars. That's because on Wednesday, Aug. 27, the Red Planet will approach to within about 34,600,000 miles of Earth. It hasn't come that close--and thus hasn't been as bright--for almost 60,000 years, the better part of human history. And if you happen to miss that historic night, don't worry: you can still get a superb view over the...

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