I spend a lot of time staring at the sky. I'm just perpetually fascinated by space, by the stars and planets and the Moon and the Sun. I even have an app on my phone that maps the sky so I can identify what I'm looking at. I've gotten pretty good at recognizing a few of the brightest lights in the night sky, and I've noticed that Mars has been brighter than usual. The reason for that? Opposition!

Because the planets don't all revolve around the sun in a perfect circle, the orbit paths end up bringing planets closer at certain times, and further at others.

NASA/Getty Images

During the Mars opposition in 2003, the planet was only 34.6 million miles from Earth. This was the closest the two planets had come to each other in almost 60,000 years, and this record won't be broken until Aug. 28, 2287, according to NASA. Ignore everything else for a second and just appreciate that NASA can calculate planetary orbits 269 years in the future to the day.

In 2016, Mars came about 46.8 million miles from Earth, and this year it will be 35.8 million miles away!

Our friends at the Robert J. Novins Planetarium along with the ASTRA Astronomy Club will be hosting an event at the Planetarium on the campus of Ocean County College on Friday night from 9pm-1am.

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