FIRST AIRED: July 27, 2018

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00:00:01
>> Astronomers looking forward to a rare celestial event this weekend. Neighbors Mars and Earth will be the closest they've been in 15 years. But close is a relative term for scientists.>> Mars is usually about 140 million miles or so, away. When it's on its closest approach, and this particular close approach is pretty good, is gonna be just under 35 million miles away from us.
00:00:28
>> The distance is shorter because Earth will be directly between Mars and the Sun. So what does it mean for spaced out earthlings?>> Go outside on any given night, for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere especially, and look for this red beaming object that's got a lot of iron rusty kind of look to it.
00:00:47
And so the brighter it gets, the more and more pronounced that red color gets.>> So beautiful.>> For star struck New Yorkers, the Amateur Astronomer's Association is hosting star parties at local parks.>> These planets are so bright, even the air pollution and the light pollution in New York City doesn't make any difference.
00:01:06
>>
SOUND]>>
You always hear them say, my god.>> People have lined up to gaze at the Moon, Saturn, and of course, Mars. As the red planet moves closer, surface structures like craters will become easier to spot. And you might catch a glimpse of its two small moons, Phobos and Deimos.
00:01:28
Also visible the planet's south polar ice cap where scientists just detected a large underground lake with water.>> It's something we can relate to, I think cuz they're our neighbor and they have an atmosphere, and we know what looks like.>> In fact, as Mars moves closer, it offers a window of opportunity for space agency missions.
00:01:51
>> NASA takes advantage of it, Europeans missions take advantage of it. Closest approach means reduced travel time. So you can think of this in the future when we start these missions to Mars with humans, we'll always be looking towards closest approach. Albeit, I'm still not going there cuz it's cold, and it's more like that's not a vacation.
00:02:12
It's exotic, however, I'm really good on this planet.