FILE - This image made available by NASA shows the planet Mars. This composite photo was created from over 100 images of Mars taken by Viking Orbiters in the 1970s. On Tuesday, July 31, 2018, the red planet will make its closest approach to Earth in 15 years. (NASA via AP)

Mars making closest approach to Earth in 15 years

July 24, 2018 - 3:25 pm

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Now's the time to catch Mars in the night sky.

Next week, the red planet is making its closest approach to Earth in 15 years.

The two planets will be just 35.8 million miles (57.6 million kilometers) apart next Tuesday. And on Friday, Mars will be in opposition. That means Mars and the sun will be on exact opposite sides of us.

Mars is already brighter than usual and will shine even more— and appear bigger — as Tuesday approaches. Astronomers expect good viewing through early August.

A massive dust storm at Mars, however, is obscuring normally visible surface details.

In 2003, Mars and Earth were the closest in nearly 60,000 years.