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People flock to China's southern island to watch Mars' close-up
( 2003-08-28 10:28) (Agencies)

Hundreds of Chinese astronomy-lovers gathered at a hilltop park in southern China's island province of Hainan to get a glimpse of Mars' closest approach Wednesday night.

"The clear sky is so great as if it were preparing specially for the observation of the Red Planet at the closest distance," said Liu Tianlin, who was on his special trip to the island province to watch the closest encounter between the earth and Marssince the last 60,000 years.

Liu and his friends, among hundreds of other Mars chasers, had already set up their telescope in the Luhuitou Park in Sanya decided to stay up to witness the spectacle.

As of August 27, the Red Planet will be some 55.76 million kilometers from Earth, a distance will not be so close between theearth and Mars again until 2287, according to Guangdong Astronomers Society.

The society said Sanya would be the optimal destination to watch Mars in China as it is the country's southernmost city.

Though people living in southern China have a better view of Mars, people in cities like Nanjing, capital of eastern China's Jiangsu Province, also find it hard to miss the Red Planet.

"Oh, Mars is just like an egg yolk," yelled a kid through a telescope in Zijinshan (Purple Mountain) Observatory, in the eastern outskirts of Nanjing.

"To our astronomers, we could miss anything except this opportunity to watch Mars in such a close distance," said Ge Yongliang, an astronomer at the observatory.

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