[Mars 8/9/2003, CM=225] [Mars 8/29/2003, 10:50pm, Margaritifer]

Mars Observing FAQ and Links: 2007 Opposition

These sketches represent what you might see in a small amateur telescope during this opposition. For more, and descriptions of features, see Jane Houston Jones' Mars Sketch Page, or my own Mars sketch page.

This page describes the December, 2007 opposition of Mars.
(Last updated November 7, 2007.)

Closest approach is on December 19, 2007. Opposition is on Christmas Eve.

Don't believe the hoax!

There is a message floating around the internet about an amazingly close Mars opposition where "Mars will be as big as the moon!" That message is a hoax, and it's full of misinformation. It describes an opposition that happened in 2003. It's over. For more information on the hoax, see my article on the evolution of the hoax, or the Snopes.com page.

This year's opposition will not be as close as the 2003 opposition. But here's the good news: For nothern hemisphere observers, Mars will soar about high in the sky as it gets -- 80°!

That makes a huge difference in the steadiness of the atmosphere. Even though the disk of Mars will be quite small, only 15.9" (vs. 25" in 2003 and 20.2" in 2005), the steadier seeing may allow use of high magnification, and you may be amazed how much you can see on this small planet. It will reach magnitude -1.6 at its brightest.

This opposition is somewhat unusual in that we'll be seeing Mars nearly equator-on. So we should be able to see both hemispheres fairly equally, and may even be able to see both polar caps at once. Mars will hit its equinox (autumnal for the southern hemisphere, vernal for the northern) on December 9, so the north polar cap will be very prominent while the southern cap will be quite small. Throughout December we should be able to see the hazy "north polar hood" gradually break up to expose the brighter polar cap beneath.

If you have questions on observing Mars, or answers which you think belong in a FAQ, please mail.


If you prefer, you can skip the FAQ and jump directly to the links.

Mars Observing FAQ


[Mars on 9/12/2003 CM=245]

... Mars Links ...

[Mars on 8/24/2003 cm=75]

Labelled Mars Maps Online

Unlabelled Mars Maps Online

Places to buy Mars Maps and Globes

Here's everything I can find on sources for Mars maps and globes -- not much, so please let me know if you have something to add! (Thanks to Mike Koop for a lot of the research already here.)

Observing Info on the 2007 Apparition

General Info

Software packages which shows Mars' rotation and surface features

Any decent planetarium program will show Mars' location in the sky, but not many show its surface features and correctly calculate which features are visible at a particular time. Here are some which do:

Online software


[Mars Firebird] Top of ShallowSky.com
General Astronomy Links
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