Mandal, the most prominent planet of our Navgrahas, represents anger, aggression, ambition, courage, and roguery. For the Greeks it has been the God of War. Naturally the two most ancient civilizations of our planet have always paid due respect to the red planet, Mars. Its closest encounter with Earth in the past 60, 000 to 100, 000 years-occurring on 27 th of this month-has stirred many a calm waters in our world. From the scientific community to the amateur sky gazers, every one suddenly seems to be so eager and curios to know all about the rarest phenomenon, termed "Opposition", when the planet will be 55. 758 million KMs from the Earth at its closest approach.
Mars will be visible at its brightest from Wednesday evening till the next dawn, throughout the August 27-28 night. Shri B K Mandal, Director, Positional Astronomy Centre (PAC), Kolkata, says that the exact epoch of the event would be at 1518 hrs IST. The planet's apparent diameter would be 25. 11 arc seconds. Before this tryst, Mars came within 55, 718 million KMs of Earth in the year 57, 537 BC, Shri Mandal points out and adds, PAC has geared up to study the event and installed 11" and 6" telescopes on the roof-top of its office building at New Ali pore in the city. PAC specialists have successfully located the South Polar Cap and other coveted features of the Martian surface.
At present, spring is prevailing in the southern hemisphere of Mars. It will be visible more prominently as the southern hemisphere of the planet is tilted towards the Earth. If the Sky remains cloud free, PAC plans to take telescopic observations on the different visual aspects of Martian surface.