aka Martis, Mavors, Mavortis

On August 27th Mars veered closer to Earth than it has, or will again, for 66,000 years. The glittering, reddish-orange planet is still the brightest natural object in the early evening sky, but for two late summer weeks an astounding number of conversations were peppered with talk of Mars: Its proximity (34,646,416 miles/55,758 km from earth); its size (at its zenith, Mars appeared as 25.11 arc seconds wide with a magnitude of –2.9); and how angry and agitated the red planet was making everyone they knew (no scientific data available).

Mars is nearly always visible, though it usually appears as a medium-sized star. And except when it’s so close you can’t miss it, Mars isn’t something the general population talks or thinks about with regularity. But for science fiction aficionados, Mars is the brightest light source, the point of origin, the symbolic and literal bedrock of a belief in extraterrestrial life.

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—Erin Ergenbright

Erin Ergenbright is the coauthor (with Thisbe Nissen) of The Ex-Boyfriend Cookbook. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

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