This summer, stargazers will have the opportunity of a lifetime as Mars makes its closest pass by Earth since 1971. Over the next few months, Mars becomes increasingly luminous and, on Aug. 27, will appear brighter than on any other day in the lifetime of anyone alive right now.
“Mars mania,” according to Astronomy magazine, is literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get kids interested in stargazing. Here are a few ideas to get your family started:
• On a clear night with no moon, Mars can be seen with the naked eye. It will be the brightest object in the sky and will be a brilliant, coppery shade of orange red.
• Save the dates: This summer, the best days (nights, that is) to look for Mars will be June 18, July 16 and Aug. 13.
• If you have access to a telescope, you’ll see polar ice caps, channels that may have carried water more than a billion years ago and maybe even a Martian dust storm.