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

Mars Observing FAQ and Links

These sketches represent what you might see in a small amateur telescope during this opposition. For more, and descriptions of features, see my sketches from 2005, 2003, or earlier.
(Last updated October 16, 2020.)

2020 Opposition:

Closest Approach: October 6
Opposition: October 13

Some sizes for the month after opposition: How fast does Mars shrink after an opposition?
October 16 22.3" November 6 19.3"
October 23 21.6" November 13 18.0"
October 30 20.6" November 20 16.7"

The view favors Mars' southern hemisphere, which will be experiencing summer around the time of opposition, so the south polar cap isn't very visible.

Here are the slides for a talk I gave on Observing Mars at Opposition on October 16, 2020 for the PEEC Planetarium in Los Alamos, NM (press spacebar or → to advance to the next slide).

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

Mars Observing FAQ

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.

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

... Mars Links ...

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

Software packages that show Mars' 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 that do:

Free Online

Non-Free Planetarium Programs

(You'd think Stellarium could do this, but apparently not.)

Older programs, no longer supported, but will still work if you can get a copy:

Labelled Mars Maps Online

Make Your Own Globe

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.)

Pages for Past Oppositions

In some years I've put up detailed observing info for that particular year. Specifically: Mars 2007Mars 2005Mars 2003.

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