Mars will be closest to Earth tonight in 17 years

Mars, our close cute little neighbour seems to be coming in hot for a quick hello.

Closer than it’s ever been in the past 17 years mind you. According to astronomers, it will be the second brightest object in the night sky after the moon.

You can pretty much just go to your rooftop and start looking out for the famous Red Planet in the sky. It will rise above the horizon at 19:00 BST. You’ll have a good sight of it around midnight.

The Red Planet is at its point of opposition, with the Earth passing directly between it and the Sun and will appear 'effectively as a full Mars', according to NASA

If you’re interested, then try to look to the right of the Moon, near Pisces. Should be easy enough to spot. According to NASA, ‘Simply go outside and look up and, depending on your local weather and lighting conditions, you should be able to see Mars.’

Mars often finds itself close to Earth every two years or so, but the distance isn’t exactly equal every time. Due to the elliptical nature of the two planets’ orbits, they find themselves a little bit closer every 15 or 17 years. Mars will be only 38.6 million miles from Earth this time around.

The orbits of Mars and Earth are not exactly circular and so at certain points the two planets are closer together than at other times - including this year and again in 2035

That number is the closest Mars has ever been to Earth since 2003. You won’t see it this close again until 2287.

Mars should shine brightly in the sky tonight according to EarthSky. It will appear like a ‘resplendent red star in the east every evening and in the west before dawn’.

What’re you waiting for? Go on and have a look at the magnificent planet yourself. You might not get a chance the next time.