Saturday, October 29, 2022

looked up Mars facts

Looked up "Mars apparition" as I was interested in getting good information on the upcoming opposition.

In short order I found Jeffrey Beish's site. I've seen his stuff before. Excellent materials, lots of details. The facts!

I particularly like the infographic showing the apparent size changes over the apparition period.

I read the page for the 2022-2023 apparition noting some key bits:

  • Mars was south of the celestial equator until 30 May. Afterwards, it is above, meaning that this apparition is better than the last, with Mars higher in the sky, some good news for people in the northern hemisphere.
  • Mars's retrograde motion against the background stars begins 30 October.
  • This apparition is considered "transitional" (as opposed to Aphelic and Perihelic) meaning we're neither as close as we can be to the fourth planet, nor are we as far as we might be.
  • Closest approach to Earth will be on 1 December. The disc diameter will be of 17.2 seconds of arc. Mars will be 0.54 astronomical units (AU) away, i.e. about half the Earth-Sun distance. That's just over 81 million km. Or 4 light-minutes.
  • This time, Mars is a bit further away than in 2020, so it will be smaller in the telescope, 5.4" smaller. But, as noted previously, it will be higher, 19 degrees higher in sky! That might make for better, cleaner views.
  • Opposition will occur on 8 December. Note that's not the same date as the proximal one.

This apparition also offers up a rare situation where the Moon will occult Mars. That will happen on 8 December. The times are from 0454 UT until 0556 UT. Back that up 5 hours for Ontario viewing. Hopefully we'll have clear skies on the evening of Wednesday 7 December from 10:00 PM on...

I like to remind viewers that these dates, while significant, aren't do or die things. That is to say, if it's cloudy on opposition night, so what, it doesn't matter. Look the next night. It'll still be there, it'll still be big and bright.

Enjoy Mars now. Look or observe or sketch or image whenever you can. And good viewing will continue into early 2023.

This is getting me fired up... I would really like to tag the moons...

We might expect embellishments and some myth-making in the coming weeks. Check your sources... Don't get bamboozled by media trying to sell more ads.

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