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The Red Planet

Astro-sketcher Erika Rix helps observers catch Mars’ elusive details as the Red Planet rises large in the late spring sky.
RELATED TOPICS: ASTROSKETCHING
Erika-Rix
Mars may be slipping low in the sky for observers in the Northern Hemisphere, but don’t let that stop you from observing the Red Planet while you can. Each sketch provides a building block of experience for capturing those elusive details for which Mars is notorious. During your observations, you can expect to see atmospheric features and even surface detail. Over time, observers can follow seasonal fluctuations and changes in martian albedo (reflectivity).

In mid-April, Mars begins retrograde motion in Ophiuchus and will move westward against the stars. The planet slips into Scorpius on May 22, marking the date of opposition when Mars is on the opposite side of Earth from the Sun. By May 30, it will lie near the border of Libra for its closest approach to Earth. Its apparent diameter will reach 18.6''. As a bonus, the North Polar Region is currently tilted toward Earth so that the clouds that form over both polar regions may be visible.

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