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!
Bottom line: Beautiful photo of Mars on March 19, 2018, when it was between the Lagoon and Trifid nebulae.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.