Reddish Mars appears in the predawn eastern sky following its conjunction behind the Sun on 2017 JUL 26. Western quadrature (90° from Sun) will be reached on 2018 MAR 24. Apparent retrograde motion in right ascension will begin on JUN 28.
A perihelic opposition from the Sun will occur on 2018 JUL 26 with Mars in the sky all night in the constellation Capricornus at declination S 25.5°. Mars’ south pole will appear titled 11.2° toward Earth. Greatest brilliance at magnitude -2.8 is expected on JUL 28. Closest approach to Earth will be on JUL 31 at 0.3850 AU with an angular diameter of 24.3 arcseconds.
Apparent direct motion in right ascension will resume on 2018 AUG 28. Eastern quadrature will be reached on DEC 02 long before conjunction behind the Sun on 2019 SEP 02.
During 2018 Mars will appear near Saturn APR 02 and no other bright planets or first magnitude stars.
During 2018 the Moon will appear near Mars on MAR 09, APR 07, MAY 06, JUN 03, JUN 30, JUL 27, AUG 23, SEP 20, OCT 18, NOV 15 (occultation) & DEC 14.
NOTE: Event dates in this article are for North American Central Time.
* A meridian transit occurs when a celestial body crosses an observer’s local north-south line in the sky. That is practically simultaneous with culmination, i.e. the highest altitude for the day. The Mars meridian transit times in the above linked graph can be easily transformed for your location. The given times are nearly the same for the central meridians of all time zones, i.e. those evenly divisible by 15° such as 75°, 90°, 105° or 120°. Do not adjust to UT. Simply add to the chart time 4 minutes for each degree west of a central meridian, or subtract 4 minutes for each degree to the east. If on daylight savings time, add an hour.
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