PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University invites the public to visit the Jewett Observatory next week to view the planet Mars as it swings closer to Earth than it has for nearly 60,000 years. 


WSU astronomy faculty members will be on hand each night to assist viewers. “Our 12-inch, refractor telescope reaches 300 magnification and is really good for viewing planets,” said astronomy professor Guy Worthey. “We should be able to see the Mars polar ice caps and some albedo features, large surface areas covered by either sand or bare rock, that reflect light differently. If viewing is especially good, we may also see the volcanoes and the rift valley.”


The observatory will be open from 10 p.m. to midnight, Monday, Aug. 25, through Friday, Aug. 29, and from 8:30 p.m. to midnight Saturday, Aug. 30. Mars will be visible after 10 p.m. each night, with the best viewing after 11 p.m. Mars will be closest at 3 a.m. Aug. 27. 


The Jewett Observatory is located uphill from the corner of Grimes Way and Olympia on the WSU campus.  Visitors are urged to wear warm clothing.