Science: A Visit with Mars


The planet Mars was bigger, brighter, and closer to the earth last week than it has been in 32 years. On Sept. 7 it passed within 35,200,000 miles. Not until 1971 will it come so close again.

The earth, moving faster on its smaller orbit, overtakes and passes Mars every 26 months, but the distance of closest approach varies considerably because both orbits are slightly elliptical, with their long axes pointing in different directions (see diagram). The earth may overtake Mars at a point where the orbits are close together, as they are this week, or where they are almost twice as...

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