To date, in 2018, Mars has been moving over the horizon a little sooner and a little nearer to the Earth. By the end of July, the Red Planet will be closer to us like never before since 2003.
The planet would be in opposition with the Sun as of July 27th, that indicates that Mars will be face-to-face with the Sun on Earth’s sky, with only 51 days left before it travels past the perihelion, the point that is closest to the Sun in a planet’s orbit.
Consequently, the closest distance from Mars to Earth will be cut to an estimate of 57.58 million kilometers as of July 30th, when the visible diameter of the Mars’ disc will be as big as 24.3 arc seconds, nearly the highest value it can ever achieve, that is 25.1 arc seconds.
On July 30th, Mars will shine at a magnitude of about -3, that is 2 times brighter than Jupiter. However, 2 times dimmer than Venus which will also be visible this summer. This means that, with a 75x magnifying telescope, the Red Planet’s disc will be as big as the full Moon’s disc when watched with the naked eye.
Mars will show its south pole to us until the end of the year
On the other hand, watchers from South America, South Africa, and Australia will be provided with an unprecedented Mars’ observation window, as the planet will be virtually traveling straight over the Southern Hemisphere’s skies.
For Mars, this period roughly coincides with the coming of autumn, which already occurred on May 22nd, and the coming of winter, which will happen on October 13th, in the northern hemisphere of the Red Planet. As on the Earth, for the Mars’ southern hemisphere, these dates will coincide with the coming of spring and summer, respectively. However, different from Earth, a season on Mars is about 2 times longer than a season on our planet.
As the Martian South Pole is inclined in the direction of the Earth from now until the end of 2018, each observer will be able to see this spectacular region of the Red Planet.