"The Fabulous Summer Solstice of 2001!  Mars At Its Closest in 13 Years!  and; The First Total Eclipse of The Sun Of The Millennium"

Scheduled air date: 2001 Jun 18-24

June 21st marks the Summer Solstice—or first day of Summer—for the Northern Hemisphere.  It is also the Winter Solstice—or first day of Winter—in the Southern Hemisphere, where parts of southern Africa will be treated to a Total Solar Eclipse that same afternoon.
(Eclipse shown from Lusaka, Zambia, a major city which falls on the "path of totality.")

Another astronomical event occurring on June 21st is Mars' closest approach to Earth during its current orbit...
(Shown about an hour after Sunset on June 21st for mid-Northern latitudes.)

...when it will be a mere 42 million miles away.  While this is the closest Mars has been to us since 1988, it can get about 7 million miles closer, as it will during its next approach in 2003.
(The four inner planets of our Solar System are shown in their orbits from above the Sun's north pole over a six-month period.)

If you wish to view illustrations for other episodes, please see our Star Gazer Illustrated directory.

Illustrations on this page were created using TheSky Astronomy Software, an advanced desktop planetarium program designed for Windows.

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