CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The planet Mars is putting on a big show this weekend and all of next week as it will pass closer to earth than at any time over the last two years.
In case you weren't sure, Earth and Mars both orbit around the sun with Earth's orbit inside of Mars'. Just like a NASCAR racer taking the inside lane around a turn, Earth's inside lane means it can circle the sun more quickly than the slower outer orbit of Mars.
So once Earth passes Mars, it take a couple years for Earth to catch up again, or to lap Mars.
Well, here we go again, passing by Mars. And because we're so close, it's quite bright in the evening sky. No binoculars or telescopes are necessary.
Just look up into the southeastern sky during mid to late evening and you'll have no problem identifying the bright orange object.
The next clear night may not occur until Sunday night. So for reference, locate the nearly full moon Sunday evening around 10 p.m. Immediately to the right of the moon is Saturn. If you have a strong pair of binoculars or a telescope, you can see Saturn's rings.
Now, look to the upper right, not that far, and you'll see the orange glow of Mars.
Of course, NASA plans to take advantage of the opportunity too by pointing the Hubble Telescope (orbiting around Earth) toward Mars and getting some great pictures.