Mars 2016

During this apparition, Mars will come into Opposition on May 22, 2016 in the constellation Scorpius, when it will shine at an apparent visual brightness of -2.06 mag. Eight days later, on May 30, 2016, it will have its closest approach to Earth during this appatition, with a distance of about 47.05 million miles (75.28 million km, 0.50321 AU), and an apparent diameter of 18.60". This is intermediate between closer perihelic and more distant aphelic apparitions (aphelion appeared in November 2015, perihelion will occur in October 2016). At opposition time, there will be late summer on Mars' Northern hemisphere, so Mars' North Polar Region (NPR) will be visible from Earth, but slowly go behind horizon: Northern Summer Solstice was in January, 2016, and Northern Autumn Equinox will occur in July, 2016. With a southern value for declination of -21:37 at opposition time, this will be better observable from southern locations on Earth.

As for all oppositions, this one will provide a favorable opportunity to send spacecraft to Mars: European Space Agency (ESA) is planning to send its ExoMars 2016 mission, which is scheduled to include an orbiter and a demonstration lander, with lauch scheduled for March 14, 2016. Nasa had planned to launch its InSight Mars lander in March 2016, but due to difficulties with a science instrument, has now rescheduled this for 2018.

.. more to come soon ..

Chronology of the 2016 Mars Apparition

Jun 14, 2015
Mars in conjunction with the Sun from Earth, in Taurus. Earth in superior conjunction with the Sun as seen from Mars. Distance 384.1 million km (2.5684 AU), apparent diameter 3.648", brightness +1.49 mag. This conjunction which also ends the 2013/2014 apparition of Mars, starts the 2016 apparition of Mars.
Jun 19, 2015
Northern Spring, Southern Autumn Equinox on Mars.
Jun 25, 2015
Mars leaves constellation Taurus and enters Gemini.
Jul 11, 2015
Mars at its greatest distance from Earth: 2.5869 AU (386.9 million km).
Aug 5, 2015
Mars leaves constellation Gemini and enters Cancer.
Sep 5, 2015
Mars leaves constellation Cancer and enters Leo.
Sep 18, 2015
Mars in its minimal apparent brightness: +1.78 mag.
Oct 14, 2015
Mars at its greatest northern heliocentric ecliptic latitude (+1.8484 deg).
Nov 2, 2015
Mars leaves constellation Leo and enters Virgo.
Nov 20, 2015
Mars in Aphelion (1.66606 AU, 249.2 million km)
Dec 6, 2015
Apparent brightness of Mars exceeds +1.50 mag.
Moon occults Mars (02:39 UT)
Dec 12, 2015
Apparent diameter of Mars exceeds 5".
Jan 1, 2016
Mars shines at mag +1.26 in constellation Virgo with an apparent diameter of 5.53". Distance from Earth is 1.684 AU (251.8 million km).
Jan 3, 2016
Northern Summer, Southern Winter Solstice on Mars.
Jan 7-27, 2016
ExoMars 2016 launch scheduled.
Jan 17, 2016
Mars leaves constellation Virgo and enters Libra.
Jan 21, 2016
Apparent brightness of Mars exceeds +1.00 mag.
Feb 19, 2016
Apparent brightness of Mars exceeds +0.50 mag.
Mar 12, 2016
Apparent brightness of Mars exceeds 0.00 mag.
Mar 13, 2016
Mars leaves constellation Libra and enters Scorpius.
Mar 15, 2016
Apparent diameter of Mars exceeds 10".
Mar 31, 2016
Apparent brightness of Mars exceeds -0.50 mag.
Apr 3, 2016
Mars leaves constellation Scorpius and enters Ophiuchus.
Apr 16, 2017
Apparent brightness of Mars exceeds -1.00 mag.
Apr 17, 2016
Mars becomes stationary and starts its retrograde opposition loop, as Earth passes between the Red Planet and the Sun.
Apr 23, 2017
Apparent diameter of Mars exceeds 15".
Apr 28, 2017
Mars passes the Descending Node of its orbit and will be South of the Ecliptic for 1/2 Mars year.
Apr 30, 2016
Mars leaves constellation Ophiuchus and enters Scorpius again, during its retograde opposition loop.
May 1, 2016
Apparent brightness of Mars exceeds -1.50 mag.
May 19, 2016
Apparent brightness of Mars exceeds -2.00 mag.
May 22, 2016
Mars opposition on Earth, Earth in inferior conjunction on Mars. Apparent brightness of Mars reaches -2.05 mag in constellation Scorpius.
Mar 23, 2016
Apparent brightness of Mars reaches maximum at -2.06 mag.
May 28, 2016
Mars leaves constellation Scorpius and enters Libra again, for a further stay during its retograde opposition loop.
May 30, 2016
Closest approach of Mars and Earth (0.50321 AU = 75.28 million km). Apparent diameter of Mars is 18.61".
Mars' apparent brightness becomes fainter than -2.00 mag.
Jun 27, 2016
Mars' apparent brightness becomes fainter than -1.50 mag.
Jun 30, 2016
Mars becomes stationary, ends its retrograde opposition loop, and proceeds in prograde apparent motion, as Earth has passed by on its inner orbit.
Jul 5, 2016
Northern Autumn, Southern Spring Equinox on Mars.
Jul 12, 2016
Apparent diameter of Mars decreases below 15".
Jul 20, 2016
Mars' apparent brightness becomes fainter than -1.00 mag.
Aug 2, 2016
Mars leaves constellation Libra and enters Scorpius again.
Aug 17, 2016
Mars' apparent brightness becomes fainter than -0.50 mag.
Aug 21, 2016
Mars leaves constellation Scorpius and enters Ophiuchus for a short passage.
Aug 28, 2016
Mars leaves constellation Ophiuchus and enters Scorpius again.
Sep 2, 2016
Mars leaves constellation Scorpius and enters Ophiuchus again.
Sep 8, 2016
Apparent diameter of Mars decreases below 10".
Sep 20, 2016
InSight arrival and landing scheduled.
Sep 22, 2016
Mars leaves constellation Ophiuchus and enters Sagittarius.
Sep 25, 2016
Mars' apparent brightness becomes fainter than 0.00 mag.
Oct 3, 2016
Mars at its greatest southern heliocentric ecliptic latitude (-1.8484 deg).
Oct 19, 2016
ExoMars 2016 arrival scheduled.
Oct 29, 2016
Mars in Perihelion (1.38124 AU, 206.6 million km).
Nov 8, 2016
Mars leaves constellation Sagittarius and enters Capricornus.
Nov 15, 2016
Mars' apparent brightness becomes fainter than +0.50 mag.
Nov 29, 2016
Northern Winter, Southern Summer Solstice on Mars.
Dec 15, 2015
Mars leaves constellation Capricornus and enters Aquarius.
Jan 1, 2017
Mars shines at mag +0.89 in constellation Aquarius with an apparent diameter of 5.71". Distance from Earth is 1.640 AU (245.4 million km).
Jan 3, 2017
Moon occults Mars (06:39 UT)
Jan 16, 2017
Mars' apparent brightness becomes fainter than +1.00 mag.
Jan 19, 2017
Mars leaves constellation Aquarius and enters Pisces.
Feb 4, 2017
Apparent diameter of Mars decreases below 5".
Feb 27, 2017
Mars passes the Ascending Node of its orbit and will be North of the Ecliptic for 1/2 Mars year.
Mar 8, 2017
Mars leaves constellation Pisces and enters Aries.
Apr 7, 2017
Mars' apparent brightness becomes fainter than +1.50 mag.
Apr 12, 2017
Mars leaves constellation Aries and enters Taurus.
May 6, 2017
Northern Spring, Southern Autumn Equinox on Mars.
Jun 5, 2017
Mars leaves constellation Taurus and enters Gemini.
Jun 30, 2017
Mars in its minimal apparent brightness: +1.70 mag.
Jul 17, 2017
Mars leaves constellation Gemini and enters Cancer.
Jul 26, 2017
Mars in conjunction with the Sun from Earth, in Cancer. Earth in superior conjunction with the Sun as seen from Mars. Distance 397 million km (2.6554 AU), apparent diameter 3.527", brightness +1.68 mag. This conjunction ends the 2016 apparition of Mars. It also starts the 2018 apparition of Mars.

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Last Modification: March 9, 2016