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See it! Mars is very bright now

It’s the brightest Mars has been in our sky since since 2003. Photos from the EarthSky community here.

Full moon – Mars at opposition – July 27, 2018 via Raul Cortes in Monterrey, Mexico.

Moon and Mars over Eleven Mile Canyon in Arizona – July 26, 2018 – from Stephanie Longo.

Peter Lowenstein, who captured the video above, wrote: “Early on Thursday morning (July 26, 2018) Mars was observed setting over Chikanga township near Mutare, Zimbabawe). The planet is at present in opposition and is closer to Earth and brighter than it has been since 2003. It therefore remained visible until the dawn sky was quite light and only disappeared after being overwhelmed by a bright pink Belt of Venus. 700 still images were captured between 5.32 and 6.20 am and used to produce this 21-second time-lapse animation, whose motion has been speeded up about 140 times.”

Mars and a moondog. Marsha Kirschbaum wrote: “I wanted very much to shoot the opposition of Mars on the 27th, but my schedule wouldn’t allow it. I went for a mad dash to the Sierras 2 days before to catch Mars rising. I had to leave the San Francisco Bay Area to escape the fog only to find smoke from the Ferguson Forest Fire mixed in with high clouds. Mars was so bright that it shown through the haze anyway [lower right of photo]. The moon was so bright that it created a sun dog to the right of it.”

View larger. | John Ashley was in Kalispell, Montana, when he captured the images to make this composite. The bright object here is the moon, and the 2nd-brightest is Mars. John said the image “… spans almost 5 hours, and you’ll need to enlarge the photo to see all of the planets. At dusk on July 24, Jupiter (top right) and Saturn (just below the moon) emerged from the deepening blue, and Saturn accompanied a 94 percent gibbous moon through the night … reddish Mars rose above the southeastern horizon, clipping the Blasdel Barn on its westward journey. Moon images 3 minutes apart, planet images 1:30 minutes apart.” Nikon D750, Rokinon 35mm lens. Click here for a photo of John that night; he said he was “fending off a vicious cloud of mosquitoes …”

Peter Ryan wrote on July 24, 2018: “I had an itch to capture Mars coming up by the Newport Bridge in Rhode Island.”

Watch for the moon to sweep past both Saturn and Mars in the last week of July 2018. Read more.

Moon and Mars over Singapore, July 25, 2018, by A. Kannan.

Mars and the moon shining through summer “monsoon” clouds in Tucson, Arizona, July 24, 2018, by Eliot Herman. Nikon D850 20.0 mm f/1.4.

Rob Pettengill captured this image of Mars on July 23, 2018, as the global dust storm raging on the planet since June was in full swing. He wrote: “Dusty Mars captured with a small telescope. Good seeing conditions in Austin, Texas, gave me a chance to capture hints of surface detail and the south polar cap for the first time during this dust-obscured opposition. Mars is finally above 24 arc seconds in size today.”

Chirag Upreti wrote on July 20, 2018: “Light pollution from New York City is not conducive to night sky photography, but planets can be visualized as they make their way across the city scapes. Here Mars is seen near the Freedom Tower, framed between the trees that line the Hudson Waterfront Walkway near Newport, New Jersey.” 4-shot panorama, merged own Lightroom CC. 150mm, f/9, ISO 800 and 2 sec shutter speed.

Gowrishankar Lakshminarayanan created this composite of Mars moving across the night sky, with NYC’s Freedom Tower in the foreground, with 67 photos taken July 20, 2018, and later manually aligned in PhotoShop. He wrote: “After doing some calculations, I zeroed in on the approximate location using the combination of Stellarium and The Photographer’s Ephemeris. But then I realized after going on site that the place with that lat/long is not accessible. I had to back out a little bit, and hence you see Mars not clipping but going over Freedom Tower’s spire. It wasn’t clearest of nights, with some thin clouds passing by, due to which the Mars transit isn’t perfect.” Not perfect but still awesome, Gowri! Thank you. Canon 5D Mark IV, Canon EF 100-400 mm F4.5-5.6 L Lens 263mm at ISO 3200, F8.0, 2s with Image stabilization.

Mars, from Tucson, on July 19. Eliot Herman wrote: “Mars is bright and dominates the sky as it approaches its close opposition. Finally a clear night without monsoon clouds. This is a stack of images (every 5 minutes) acquired immediately after moonset, assembled and adjusted in Photoshop. Click here for a deconvoluted version showing more stars.” Nikon D850 20.0 mm f/1.4.

Mars on July 14, from Johnnyxbox Childers, who wrote: “Bright Mars captured in the wee minutes of Saturday, while practicing new photographic techniques.”

Kym Baldwin captured this image on July 14, 2018, at Cape May, New Jersey. Mars is the bright object on the left. Kym wrote: “We spent an evening on the beach in Cape May shooting the Milky Way. It’s humbling being able to see something so great dance over our heads.”

Jim Powell wrote: “Mars at 3 a.m. July 15, 2018. Only 12 days away from opposition, and it looks like those dust storms are starting to calm down a little bit. I’m seeing more detail today than I did 9 days ago when I last observed Mars.” Click here for updates on the Opportunity rover on Mars; it went silent in June due to Mars dust.

Matt Pollack captured Mars from Little Tupper Lake in the Adirondacks of upstate New York. Read more about this photo.

Linda Cook in Manzanita, Oregon, caught a meteor appearing to point toward Mars on July 12, 2018. It’s meteor season, by the way! EarthSky’s meteor guide is here.

The Antarctic Report on Facebook posted this photo on July 14, 2018, and wrote: “Homage to Mars! Only 16 days to its closest approach to Earth since 2003 … one of the rare times the red planet becomes brighter than Jupiter in our skies. This photo, looking across the sea ice from McMurdo Station, by Stephen Allinger, NSF.” Note the view here is reversed from most of the photos on this page, which show Mars to the left of the Milky Way. In this photo from Antarctica, it appears to the right.

Gary Peltz – who is on a 3-week road trip – wrote on July 11: “What a fantastic night it was after hitting 104 F yesterday! This is Whiskeytown Lake just west of Redding, California, last night. Mars rising big and bright lower left and reflecting in the water.”

Here’s why Mars is so bright now. Earth is the blue dot. Mars is the red dot. We’re about to pass between Mars and the sun, so the distance between our 2 worlds is small now. The exact date of the Mars opposition is July 27, 2018.

Reginald Solomon wrote on July 6, 2018: “A bright, but mostly featureless Mars due to the global dust storm. Through the eyepiece, Mars was bold and bright, with minor hints of albedo features near the poles. I created a composite image from three separate observations to illustrate the impact of the current storm on planet detail and the increasing size of the planet as it nears opposition and perigee.”

Raul Cortes in Monterrey, Mexico, captured the constellation Scorpius, the famous Teapot asterism in the constellation Sagittarius, Saturn, and Mars on July 10.

Peter Ryan wrote on July 8, 2018: “I went out to grab a picture of the Milky Way on the coast of Rhode Island over in Newport. When I got done I noticed the red dot on the lower left and couldn’t believe my eyes that it was Mars.”

Dennis Chabot wrote on July 8, 2018: “Mars this morning. It’s very bright now and big in the sky.” Notice that it’s also red in color. The brightness and red color will let you identify Mars fairly easily. Watch for it in the east – in the direction opposite the sunset – in mid-evening or later. Mars will be in the west at dawn.

Deidre Horan in Dublin, Ireland, caught Mars setting in the west on the morning of July 7, 2018.

Nikolaos Pantazis in Peloponnisos, Greece, caught bright Mars rising in the east in mid-evening – along with the Milky Way – on July 6, 2018. In this photo, Mars is the bright object on the left, above the ridge of the mountain.

Peter Lowenstein in Mutare, Zimbabwe, caught the moon and Mars setting on the morning of July 1, 2018. The bright dot near the horizon is Jupiter. For about 2 months – around July 7 to September 7 – Mars will supersede Jupiter in brightness. Read more.

Bottom line: Photos of Mars in July 2018 from the EarthSky community.

Want to see Mars? Try this post

Or try EarthSky’s guide to the bright planets

Deborah Byrd

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