For those who are interested in astronomy, tonight Mars will make its closest approach to Earth in fifteen years. That means that it will be both large - though still only viewable in detail through binoculars or a telescope - and very bright. 

As most people already know, both the Earth and Mars orbit the sun, in neighbouring orbits. Usually they are at different points in their respective orbits, and so Mars appears small and distant. Roughly every two years, the two planets pass close together and Mars appears to be larger and brighter than normal. (Although still not the size of the Moon, contrary to popular online urban legends). 

Due the the elliptical orbits of the two planets, the distance between them when they pass varies. This year they will pass relatively close together, and will also align with the Sun. The Sun will be directly behind the Earth during the opposition, and well therefore illuminate the surface of Mars giving a bright view of the full face of Mars that faces the Earth, and will therefore make observing our neighbour easier than it normally would be.

Coincidentally tonight also marks a lunar eclipse which will be visible in some parts of the world, but unfortunately not in most of North America. Those of you living on the other side of the globe will get the opportunity to see the Moon turn red as the Earth's shadow crosses the lunar surface.

So if the weather in your area permits, I would encourage all of you to go outside tonight and have a glance at our neighbouring planet. Mankind is heading for other worlds, and Mars will be our first step. It may seem just a bright red dot to some, but in truth it represents a world apart from our own, full of mysteries and yet to be discovered science, and the dreams of generations of observers who have come before us.