By March 2021, observers using larger scopes might be able to catch sight of the northern polar cap. Each filter is unique, and you can identify each one by looking at the W number on the side. Its closest approach to Earth that year will be December 1, 2022. Mars is now creeping towards opposition in October, the point in its orbit when it’s closest to Earth, so as big and bright as it gets. This means its orbit is nearest our planet and will shine bright in the southern part of the sky. Ever since July 4, 2020, Earth has been moving closer to the sun; and ever since August 3, 2020, Mars has been edging away from the sun. On October 6, 2020, at about 14 UTC, Mars is closest for this two-year period, only a bit farther away than in 2003 or 2018. All of these seasonal effects result in long-term changes to the planet’s surface. Earth swings between Mars and the sun every other year, at progressively later dates. By the end of 2020 Mars will have an apparent diameter of 11 arcseconds – still big enough to be noticeable to naked-eye and binocular observers. At the start of November, Ls has a value of around 310° and so it’s late summer in the southern hemisphere. In mid-October 2020, look for Mars in the east at nightfall – highest in the sky near midnight – and in the west as morning dawn starts to light the sky. Mars is rising earlier each evening, and this weekend is now in the sky before midnight, with a 65% illuminated waning gibbous Moon in tow. That’s significantly brighter than any stars, so Mars will be obvious. It is particularly satisfying to watch bright clouds which have collected in the early morning chill of the Hellas Basin, slowly disperse during the course of an observing session. I inspire people to go stargazing, watch the Moon, enjoy the night sky, Why The 'King Of The Planets' Will Shine Super-Brightly From Dusk Till Dawn This Week, NASA's Hubble Just Sent Back A Stunning New Photo Of Saturn's Rings At Their Brightest And Best, EY & Citi On The Importance Of Resilience And Innovation, Impact 50: Investors Seeking Profit — And Pushing For Change, Three spacecraft are on their way to Mars right now. Truly global dust storms are quite rare – two prominent ones occurred in 1975 and 1977, around the time that the Viking missions were approaching Mars.

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

These storms usually begin life as small orange clouds and they are easier to see if you use a red filter (W25) when observing Mars. © 2020 Forbes Media LLC. You might think Mars should be brighter when closest to Earth on October 6 than at opposition on October 13. I'm the editor of WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com and the author of "A Stargazing Program for Beginners: A Pocket Field Guide" (Springer, 2015), as well as many eclipse-chasing guides. Mars will reach opposition on Oct. 13, 2020, when the Red Planet will be only 39 million miles (62.7 million km) from Earth — the closest pairing until 2035.

In actual fact, Mars will remain high and bright in the evening skies for months to come; for many its appearance at a more convenient time in dark evening skies will be the time when it really grabs the attention. The conjunction of two of the night sky’s top sights isn’t that rare, but there are few more pleasing celestial sights to unaided naked eyes than a big Moon passing a bright, red planet. You could even try to catch the Moon at moonrise—the most beautiful time to observe our satellite—by consulting this Moon calculator to get times for your exact location. Looking like a brilliant glowing coal, it was quite unmistakable high up in the dark evening skies. Mars has an axial tilt of some 25° and so it experiences well-defined seasons of winter, spring, summer and autumn as it moves in its orbit around the Sun. Mars is out almost all night long now. You can see Mars easily with the eye alone. But, as we said above, Earth and Mars are closer on October 6, 2020 than they will be again for another 15 years, or until September 2035. Winds of half  the speed of sound have been recorded.

He wrote: “Looks like it was shot from Mars – not really, of course – but it does look like Mars shot it toward Earth. Paul G Abel is director of the British Astronomical Society’s Mercury and Venus section. Since many of the changes on Mars are due to the changes in seasons, it is important that we keep track of exactly where we are in the Martian calendar at any particular time. In  October 2020 the planet Mars came to opposition and was the best it has been in UK skies for many years. View at EarthSky Community Photos. October 2020 is all about the glory of Mars as the glimmering red planet puts on a show in the night sky. All Rights Reserved, This is a BETA experience.

Mars’s tilt will also start to change – from January onwards, the northern hemisphere will gradually be better placed for views of well-known albedo features like Acidalium and Elysium. Before and after opposition, sunlight is reflected at a slightly slanted angle relative to Earth, thereby reducing Mars’ brightness. Earth will next lap Mars on December 8, 2022. Yet Mars lords over the nighttime from evening until dawn, whereas Venus is relegated to the eastern morning sky. | Veteran meteor observer Eliot Herman in Tucson used an automatic all-sky camera to capture this cool image of a bright meteor and Mars over Tucson, Arizona, on September 22, 2020. The Handbook of the British Astronomical Association also gives the values in its ‘Mars Section’. Mars is a dynamic world, and over the next few months there will be some fascinating changes occurring on the Red Planet. Earth’s farthest point from the sun comes yearly, in early July. Of course, these moments of closest approach are fleeting as both Earth and Mars move in their orbits around the sun. Look tomorrow or the next night! You simply screw them into the thread at the base of your eyepiece.

You’ll find a red (W25), orange (W21) or yellow (W15) filter will also help enhance dust clouds and make them easier to see. The ECB takes the form of a thin white cloud along the equator; when it passes over darker regions like Syrtis Major, it can make the features appear bluish.


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