Earth to Mars: Come In Please! - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

8/26/03

Earth to Mars: Come In Please!

This week you can see Mars like you've never seen it before. Earthlings will get an up close and personal view of the Red Planet. It will be like a cosmic air kiss, as Mars and Earth come as close as they ever have in 60,000 years. And this historical event is captivating the attention of star gazers around the globe.

Not since the Neanderthals roamed our planet have the two worlds ever been so close. "This is the absolute closest in 60,000 years," says Texas Tech Astronomer Dr. Ron Wilhelm. Wilhelm says the orange glow of Mars is already looming large in the night sky. But Wednesday night, the observatory at Texas Tech is perhaps the prime position for the most extraordinary view. A once in a lifetime close encounter promising not to disappoint.

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"It's just another world. It's a world very similar to the Earth. It has polar ice caps, which we'll be able to see by the way. And it has dust storms like Lubbock," says Wilhelm.

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Jupiter may be the king of all planets in terms of size, but this week it's Mars' time to shine. It draws closer to the Earth than ever. The two planets are usually positioned some 250 million miles apart. Tomorrow night, the two will close the gap and cozy up to just 35 million miles distance between them. Still an extraordinary distance, but a span of space small in the cosmic sense.

There will be three public viewings later this week at the Texas Tech Observatory:

  • Wednesday, August 27th from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Friday, August 29th from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. 
  • Saturday, August 30th from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. 

The viewings are free and the observatory is located off of 4th Street immediately west of University Medical Center.

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