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Martians moving in

The red planet closer than ever

Kathleen Lippa
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Aug 25/03) - The planet Mars will be closer than ever to Earth on Aug. 27 and the Arctic is a great place to see it, experts say.

"It's going to be really low in the sky for you guys," said Alister Ling, a meteorologist who calls astronomy or sky watching his "way of life."

Ling stressed that the media keep Mars in perspective when reporting on it.

"It is the closest it has been [to Earth] in 75,000 years," said Ling, "But 17 years from now it'll get 99 per cent as big as it is this year. So yeah, it's an all-time record. But if it was the long jump you'd be going from five meters to five point zero two meters."

Iqaluit's latitude (63 degrees) and longitude (45 degrees) puts it in a unique place to witness Mars's brush with Earth.

After dusk on Aug. 27 the planet Mars will be "the brightest thing in the sky besides the moon, low in the south," Ling said. "It is very easy to mistake it as an incoming plane's landing lights."

For more information about the Mars sighting check out www.astronomy.com.