But the wait was finally over on Wednesday evening when the red planet, passed by a mere 55.76 million km to Earth.

And for those who missed the opportunity, atronomers were predicting more spectacular shows over the next few days.

It’s the closest that the two planets have come since the Stone Age and the significance of the event was not lost on anyone.

From the Polynesian shores of Tahiti to the outbacks of Australia and Japan, amateur and professional stargazers trained their telecscopes towards the eastern sky.

"Mars will be the brightest object in the sky except for the moon and its reddish colour will make it easy to find," Nick Lomb of the Sydney Observatory said.

Grand View

Besides being easy, the view expectedly, would also be grand. "Telescopes, even small ones, will allow you to see detail on Mars, including a polar cap and other surface features," Lomb said.

The closeness implies the opportunity should better be not missed.

It’s the closest that the two planets have come since the Stone Age and the significance of the event has not been lost on anyone




The last time Mars came nearer was 12 September in 57,617 BC when it passed by about 55.72 million km from Earth.

And the next time it will get this close is only another 284 years away.

No wonder the once in a lifetime occasion has  generated Mars-fever on earth. The US-based Planetary Society declared 27 August Mars Day. 

Officials viewings from observatories were organised in Beijing and Japan. Desert star parties livened up the momentous night in Jordan.

Nagging Fears

But amid all the excitement some have expressed fears over the red planet's proximity to Earth.

Soothsayers from India, Hong Kong and elsewhere say the close encounter with Mars could spell natural or man-made disasters.

The God of war in Roman mythology, Mars's approach to Earth is already being linked by some astrologers to the heatwave deaths in France and the forest fires in Canada.

"This is not good. When they come close suggests some sort of clash, like a brother and sister who get too near to each other," predicts one.

"Mars means energy and energy means more force," adds another Indian astrologer.

The fall-out, they say, could be rising impetuosity and instant anger and a spate of violence, crime and anarchy.