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Mars passes the Lagoon and Trifid

Mars is now brightening dramatically and making a beeline through many constellations. Astrophotographer Muzamir Mazlan in Malaysia caught it sweeping between the Lagoon and Trifid nebulae.

View larger. | Mars is the very bright orange object in the center of this photo, taken March 19, 2018. The Trifid Nebula is on the left, and the Lagoon Nebula is on the right, in this photo by Muzamir Mazlan. Sony A7s camera, Vixen ED103s telescope, Paramount MEII mounting, 39x30sec (ISO5000) stack with deepsky stacker and PS6.

After hovering in our predawn sky for much of 2017, Mars is now brightening dramatically and making a beeline through many constellations, heading toward a spectacular display in Earth’s sky in mid-2018. Mars passed from Scorpius into Sagittarius on March 11, and Sagittarius marks the direction toward the center of our Milky Way galaxy. So there are many stunning deep-sky vistas in the sky near Mars now, including the Lagoon and Trifid nebulae. Muzamir Mazlan caught Mars in between these two famous sky sights on March 19, 2018, from the Telok Kemang Observatory, Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan, on the western coast of the Malaysian peninsula.

Mars will pass into Capricornus in mid-May 2018. It’ll double in brightness that month. It’ll begin retrograde motion in June, looping backwards along our sky’s dome, a sign that Earth has begun passing Mars on the inside track around the sun.

In late July 2018, as Earth sweeps between Mars and the sun, Mars will appear brighter in our sky than it has since 2003 … when it was brighter than it has been in some 60,000 years!

Read more: Mars brighter in 2018 than since 2003

Want to see Mars? Bookmark EarthSky’s guide to the bright planets (changes monthly)

Bottom line: Beautiful photo of Mars on March 19, 2018, when it was between the Lagoon and Trifid nebulae.

Deborah Byrd

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