Mars, the Red Planet

YKstargazingHey, everyone.  It’s me, Yoko!

A few weekends ago, Kalea and I decided to go stargazing.  As I was admiring the night sky, Kalea suddenly grabbed my attention when he pointed at this HUGE red glowing dot.

“Look, Yoko!  That star is so bright!  And it’s red…just like you!” he said excitedly.

“My silly Kalea,” I couldn’t help but giggle, “that’s not a star.  That’s Mars!”

If you’ve looked up at the night sky lately, you may have seen it too.  Did you know that this is the first time in 15 years that Mars has come this close to Earth?  It’s not expected to get this close again for another 269 years!

If you haven’t had a chance to see Mars yet, don’t worry.  I hear that Mars will continue to shine bright throughout August into September, and you’ll still be able to see it, even without a telescope.

In the meantime, here are some fun Mars facts to share with your friends:

3D rendering planet Mars landscape

  • Mars is about half the size of Earth.  Mars has a diameter of 4,220 miles; smaller than Earth’s 7,926-mile diameter
  • You would think that because Mars is smaller, its years must be shorter too—but that is not the case! One Earth year lasts 365 days, and one Mars year lasts 687 days
  • Mars gets its red color from its dirt. Its rusty red color comes from the iron oxide dust that blankets the whole planet. (Fun fact: iron oxide is just a fancy word for rust!)
  • Mars is home to Olympia Mons, the biggest volcano in the solar system at 15 miles high, as well as Valles Marineris, the longest canyon in the solar system, stretching 2,500 miles long and 4 miles deep.

So, the next time you think you see a big red star in the sky, just remember—it might not be a star after all, rather, our neighbor planet Mars!

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