Mars exhibit has nation looking to the heavens

DUCK: The Red Planet will be a mere 55.76 million kilometers away at the end of August and the Taipei Astronomical Museum is celebrating all things Martian

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Sun, Jul 20, 2003 - Page 2

With Mars and Earth set to be at their closest for 73,000 years this August, the Taipei Astronomical Museum yesterday launched its "Race with Mars in 2003," series of exhibitions.

"SARS has gone and Mars is now approaching. Mars is obviously more interesting than SARS," said Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeo (馬英九) at the opening at the astronomical museum.

"We invite citizens to take a virtual journey to Mars and take the chance to explore the Red Planet," Ma said.

In preparation for the planetary spectacular, the Taipei Astronomical Museum is putting on seven exhibitions about Mars, including 3D films, exhibits on Mars meteorites and speeches by professional astronomers.

On Aug. 27 this year, Mars will be at "opposition," an astronomical phenomenon in which the Sun, Earth and Mars line up in a row.

This will be the closest that Mars has come to Earth in approximately 73,000 years, about 55.76 million kilometers away, said Chiu Kuo-kuang (邱國光), director of the astronomical museum.

"The best time to observe the Red Planet will be around 10pm on Aug. 27," Chiu said. "Mars will be the brightest and largest planet in the night sky there has ever been since our ancestors looked skyward."

"If you miss this opportunity, people will have to wait 280 years for another chance," the director said. In 2287, Mars will be just 55.65 million kilometers away.

Many parents brought their children to the exhibition yesterday.

"It helps me to understand more about Mars and my homework over summer vacation," said Brenden Lin (林詣軒), a fifth grader in Nan-Meng Elementary School.

Check out for more information about the Mars event.