LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Mars will make its closest pass to Earth in more than a decade later this month, as stargazers have already reported spotting the planet with the naked eye over the weekend.
The planets will be at their closest point since 2005 on May 30, when Mars will be 46.8 million miles from Earth, according to NASA.
Earth and Mars make a close pass about every two years, when Earth’s faster orbit catches up to Mars’ slower orbit of the sun. The event aligns the sun, Earth and Mars in a straight line, with Mars and the sun on “opposing” sides of Earth.
Mars is considered to be especially photogenic in the times surrounding such events, since Mars is fully illuminated by the sun, according to operators of the Hubble Space Telescope, which took detailed images of the planet May 12.
Mars opposition took place May 22, when many amateur astronomers reported seeing the planet without the aid of a telescope.
The closeness of Mars to Earth varies in the biennial event. Since Mars’ orbit around the sun is elliptical, the planet’s proximity to Earth can range from 35 million miles away to 63 million miles away, according to NASA.