Mars 2020 opposition

Time waiting for the 2018 dust storm to abate on Mars is a good opportunity to look ahead. Mars will remain greater than 20 arc seconds in apparent size until September 5th. This gives us six more weeks for the Martian atmosphere to clear and give us a good look at Martian surface features.

The 2020 opposition have advantages over 2018. The maximum apparent size at closest approach on October 6 will be 22.6 arc seconds, 7% smaller than the 24.3 arc sec size that we will see in 2018 on July 31. However, Mars will be 30 degrees higher in the sky for northern hemisphere observers. The additional altitude will give us a clearer view with less of the earth's atmosphere in the way.

Notable dates for the 2020 opposition include:

  • 2020-09-08 - Mars appears greater than 20 arc sec in size
  • 2020-09-24 - Mars increases to greater than 22 arc sec in size
  • 2020-10-02 10:30 PM CDT - The Moon passes within 78 arc sec of Mars
  • 2020-10-06 - Mars closest approach and appears 22.6 arc sec in size
  • 2020-10-13 - Mars opposition to the Sun
  • 2020-10-17 - Mars decreases to 22 arc sec in size
  • 2020-11-01 - Mars appears 20 arc sec in size

Mars and the Moon high in the eastern sky the evening of October 2, 2020.

Content created: 2018-07-23

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