Mars, our second closest cosmic cousin, has been in our collective imagination for decades. Between fantasies of martian visits and the promise of water under its icy surface, Mars doesn’t need to do much to be in our collective good books.

But very soon, Mars is not just going to be close to our hearts, but also nearest to our actual planet — a mere 62.1 million km (38.6 million miles) away from Earth.

This is the closest it’ll be for the next 15 years. And it means that stargazing is highly recommended as Mars will be bright, big and easy to see with or without a telescope.

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Even in light cloud, Mars is easily discernible at present in the period from about 9 pm to 2 am and, apart from the Moon, is the second brightest object after Venus (which is much brighter and visible a few hours later). —Eds