PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Mars is making its closest approach to Earth in over a decade, and one local observatory is holding a special viewing party Monday night to mark the occasion.
The Widener University Observatory will be open Monday at 9 p.m. to allow the public to look through computerized reflecting telescopes to get a close up look at the red planet. Doctor Harry Augensen says it’s a great time to see Mars.
“It will be closest to Earth and also it will be up all night,” he says, “so it’s in the optimal position for viewing.”
He explains what will be visible through the telescopes.
“The polar cap will be a fairly small dot, but visible and bright,” Dr. Augensen says. “We should also be able to see some dark markings on the surface, those are rocky and dust deposits, and also the orange deserts of Mars.”
But he says those interested in getting a look won’t need a telescope to see the red planet.
“They can see it with their unaided eye, without a telescope, but binoculars help to bring out the color of Mars,” he says. “It will be a beautiful reddish-orange and that has attracted people since antiquity, but just with the eye it will look like a brilliant star.”
Dr. Augensen says if you miss the watch party, no worries, Mars can be seen after that, too.