Kingaroy Observatory owner James Barclay will hold special one-hour sessions to spot Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.
Kingaroy Observatory owner James Barclay will hold special one-hour sessions to spot Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Jessica McGrath

How you can see Mars in Kingaroy

STARGRAZERS will be keeping an eye on the sky next Friday as Mars reaches its closest point to Earth in 20 years.

Kingaroy Observatory owner James Barclay said last time Mars was close was in 2003, when the planet reached its closest point to Earth in 60,000 years.

"You won't see Mars like this again for a very, very long time," he said.

Mars will be about 56 million kilometres from Earth on Friday July 27, compared to its furthest orbit point of 97 million kilometres.

The red planet's brightness is increasing each night and by July 27 Mars will outshine Jupiter by more than 33 per cent.

"The last six or seven years, the red planet has been ravaged with a dust storm, it's rare, but it happens," Mr Barclay said.

He hopes it will settle to reveal the Martian landscape, however the storm will provide a rare, brighter view as the dust acts as a reflector.

"With Mars being so close there will be the chance of sighting the polar caps," Mr Barclay said.

The planet can only be properly viewed through large, powerful telescopes, as binoculars or small telescopes might only be able to see a small disk.

"All you'll see with the naked eye is a very bright 'star-like' object," he said.

Australia will be one of the prime positions to see it, as the planet is due to venture closer to the northern hemisphere in 12 months.

 

ASTRONOMY: Kingaroy Observatory has telescopes fitted with special planet filters to see detail in planets like Mars, Saturn and Jupiter.
ASTRONOMY: Kingaroy Observatory has telescopes fitted with special planet filters to see detail in planets like Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. James Barclay

Kingaroy Observatory is holding special one-hour sessions on Friday night from 7pm to midnight to view three planets.

"This year we're so fortunate to have Jupiter, Mars and Saturn passing overhead," Mr Barclay said.

In the early hours of Saturday July 28 the moon will begin its blood moon phase into a total lunar eclipse.

The blood moon will be visible in the South Burnett for a short period, as it is predicted to appear at 5am near the western horizon before it is immersed in the pre-dawn light.

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