Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Seeing Mars in 2012

We're near our opposition with Mars as I write this (March 2012), an event that comes every 26 month, approximately. This year, we're going to have a Mars in our sky at night for many months:

  • March: up all night. Size: 13 to 14 arc seconds. Brightness: magnitude -1.0!

  • April: up till about 3:30am. Size: 10 to 13 arc seconds. Brightness: magnitude -0.35!

  • May: up till about 2am. Size: about 9 arc seconds. Brightness: magnitude 0.26.

  • June: up till about midnight. Size: about 7 arc seconds. Brightness: magnitude 0.7.

  • July: up till about 11pm. Size: about 6 arc seconds. Brightness: magnitude 1.

As you can see, Mars will be bright and fairly good sized for much of the year. However, in July Mars will be less than half the size it is in March. That means it will take over twice the magnification to get a comparable level of detail. But it will be dimmer, too. So the closer to the opposition you view, the better view you'll get. The fact is, magnification will not make up for the smaller size of Mars.

But Mars will still be putting on a good show, even this summer when it will be nice and warm out at night.



Unknown said...

Beautiful photo!

Unknown said...

Beautiful picture!