Spring is here, love is in the air, and Mars and Earth are getting a little closer this time of year.
For the next two weeks, the two neighborly planets will continue to converge -- the distance between them shrinking roughly 186 miles every minute.
By the time the convergence ends, Mars and Earth will have moved 57 million miles closer together. Such a distance may seem a pittance in the vast expanses of outer space, but it makes a difference for sky gazers, as Mars will be brilliantly visible, ten times brighter than the brightest star.
Astronomers call the occurrence “opposition of Mars," as the Red Planet and our sun will appear on opposite sides of the sky -- Mars rising in the east as the sun sets in the west. The phenomenon, which only happens every 26 months, puts Mars at its highest point around midnight, when the night sky is darkest and planet watching is at its best.
Earthlings will be at their closest to Mars on April 14. Remarkably, a full lunar eclipse is expected the following night. On both nights -- weather permitting -- viewers should be able to glimpse a bright red planet and a glowing red moon.