The Night Mars Was Closest to Earth

On Earth, Don Parker's Mars images are hard to beat, but the Hubble Space Telescope—six times larger than his sixteen-inch scope and, more importantly, above the atmosphere—easily pulled it off. In the bottom pair of images, the giant volcano Olympus Mons is the small, bright circular feature above center. Image courtesy Andrew Chaikin.

On Earth, Don Parker’s Mars images are hard to beat, but the Hubble Space Telescope—six times larger than his sixteen-inch scope and, more importantly, above the atmosphere—easily pulled it off. In the bottom pair of images, the giant volcano Olympus Mons is the small, bright circular feature above center. Image courtesy Andrew Chaikin.

Editor’s note: On August 27, 2003 Mars was closer to Earth than at any time in human history. Author Andrew Chaikin asked Universe Today to tell the story of how he was fortunate enough to enjoy the event with Don Parker, a “superb planetary photographer and wonderful guy,” Chaikin wrote. “I first met Don, a retired anesthesiologist from Coral Gables, Florida, several weeks earlier when I journeyed with my telescope to Florida to photograph the Moon passing in front of Mars, an event called an occultation. I’d seen Don’s work for decades in Sky & Telescope magazine, but until the occultation we’d never met. I certainly had never imagined that he would turn out to be as much fun as he was, with a warped, wickedly bawdy sense of humor. Standing under the moon and Mars we bonded, and soon we were making plans for me —> Read More Here

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