April 8, 2014 is “Mars Day”. Tonight Mars will be in “opposition” to the Sun – from an Earthly perspective, Mars appears opposite the Sun as Earth orbits between the two. Since orbits are uneven, all oppositions are not equal -this April Earth hurtles past Mars on its closest orbit since 2007. Tonight Mars practically begs us to look at night sky – it doesn’t matter where you live, Mars shines as brightly as any object in the sky.
Orbiting the Sun on tilted axis may result in seasons and polar caps, but little else in common with Earth. Liberal science fiction conjures images of a “red planet” – red equated with images of sweltering heat rather than an abundance of iron or knowledge of a -60 degree Celsius average temperature. Home to Olympus Mons – three times taller than Mount Everest, soaring 27 Km. above the surface – the solar systems’ tallest peak. The greatest valley, Valles Marineris, – 10 km. deep running for 4000 km., as well as raging dust storms lasting months at a time.