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Space Weather News: Dust and Distance
Space Weather News: Dust and Distance
3 Jul 2003

Space Weather News for July 3, 2003

EARTH AT APHELION: Earth's orbit is not a perfect circle, it's an ellipse. This means our planet is not always the same distance from the sun. The greatest distance, which astronomers call aphelion, occurs this year on the Fourth of July. Curiously, the globally-averaged temperature of Earth is greatest when we are farthest from the sun. Follow the links on and find out why.

MARS DUST: The distance between Earth and Mars is shrinking fast. Although the two worlds won't be closest together until late August, amateur astronomers are already getting remarkable views of Mars through backyard telescopes. For instance, some advanced observers have just spotted a dust cloud forming near Hellas Basin--a giant impact crater on Mars' southern hemisphere. Two years ago a similar cloud grew into a global dust storm on Mars. Will this one do the same? Probably not, although astronomers will be watching carefully to see what happens.

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Last Updated: 3 Jul 2003