Under bright moonlight, the Red Planet, Mars (right), shines during its January 2010 close encounter with the Earth as seen above Winter landscape of Tes plateau in Hungary; a region famous for its old windmills. Notable on the left are stars of the Ursa Major or the Big Bear. The brightness of Mars peaks each tow years when Mars reached opposition, the time when Earth and Mars are closest together in their orbits. For 2010 opposition, Mars remains just over 99 million kilometers away, not a particularly close approach for the Red Planet. Mars has an average opposition distance of 78 million km but can come as close as 55.7 million km during a close approach.



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