A closeup image of the planet Mars. Courtesy NASA

Have you noticed a bright red star in the eastern sky? It’s the planet Mars at its closest approach to Earth until 2035.

The Red Planet was just 35.6 million miles from Earth at 7:18 a.m. Tuesday morning, the moment of it’s closest approach.

The planet will rise around 7:25 p.m. on Wednesday evening and be highest in the local sky after midnight.

“October is a great time for viewing Mars, as the planet is visible all night right now,” according to NASA. “This is also around the time when Mars and Earth come closest together in their orbits, meaning the Red Planet is at its brightest in the sky, so don’t miss it.”

Mars will be the brightest object in the night sky until the moon rises later in the evening. If you have a telescope, it will appear as a small red disc. With a large telescope, surface features like the polar icecap may be visible.

Spacecraft from several nations are taking advantage of the close proximity and currently on the way to Mars, including NASA’s Mars 2020 mission, which is scheduled to land there in February.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.