On Friday July 27th 2018 Mars will make it’s closet approach to Earth in 15 years.
This occurs when Mars, Earth and the Sun are aligned with Mars located on the opposite side of Earth from the Sun. Mars will slowly rise on the eastern horizon late that evening … not the best viewing situation. A major dust storm developed on May 31st and has obscured details of the Martian surface. (see image below) Surface details will gradually re-emerge later this Summer as the dust storm subsides.
The viewing characteristics of Mars as seen from the Victoria area are tabulated below for the remaining DAO Saturday Night Summer Star Parties of the season.
Notice that the appearance of Mars (angular diameter) will decrease very slowly after the opposition. One week following opposition the angular diameter will only be 0.5% smaller but Mars will rise earlier and surface features may start to re-emerge.
Evening viewing conditions of Mars therefore will be more favourable and convenient in August.
Consider attending a DAO Saturday Night Star Party this August.
Volunteers of RASC will be there to share the night sky with their telescopes.
Click here to obtain free Star Party tickets. Note: No Star Party on July 28th.
In the Victoria area the best evening views of Mars are obtained with an unobstructed view of the southeast such as: Cattle Point Urban Dark Sky Park, Clover Point, Island View Beach, and Mount Tolmie. In the late evening Mars will appear fairly low in the southeast as an exceptionally bright red dot. It is hard to miss. Check it out.
The Surface of Mars Before and After the Martian Dust Storm (from NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter)