Mars 2018

During this apparition, Mars will come into Opposition on July 28, 2018 in the constellation Capricornus, when it will shine at an apparent visual brightness of -2.78 mag. Four days later, on July 31, 2018, it will have its closest approach to Earth during this apparition, with a distance of only 35.994 million miles (57.59 million km, 0.38496 AU), and an apparent diameter of 24.31". This will be the closest approach since the record opposition of 2003, and become comparatively close only in 2031. It is so close as Mars is not far from its perihelion, which it will reach on September 16, 2018; therefore, this one is called a perihelic apparition. It is also intermediate between the Mars Northern Autumn Equinox (May 23, 2018) and its Northern Winter Solstice (October 17, 2018), so that the Southern Polar Region (SPR) will be visible from Earth and become more and more prominent. This will occur when Mars is very south at -25 to -26 deg of Declination.

This perihelic apparition will give a considerably favorable opportunity to send spacecraft to Mars. Nasa has used this occasion to launch its InSight Mars lander, a stationary lander equipped with instruments for sub-surface geophysical studies, on May 5, 2018. European Space Agency has postponed its ExoMars Rover mission, formerly called "ExoMars 2018" and originally scheduled for launch in May 2018, to the 2020 Mars Apparition.

Chronology of the 2018 Mars Apparition

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 +1.78 mag. This conjunction, which also ends the 2016 apparition of Mars, starts the 2018 apparition of Mars.
Aug 5, 2017
Mars at its gratest distance from Earth (397.6 million km, 2.6581 AU).
Aug 17, 2017
Mars leaves constellation Cancer and enters Leo.
Aug 31, 2017
Mars reaches its greatest northern heliocentric latitude (+1.8484 d).
Sep 18, 2017
Moon occults Mars.
Sep 30, 2017
Mars at its least brightness (+1.83 mag).
Oct 7, 2017
Mars in Aphelion (1.66609 AU, 249.2 million km).
Oct 12, 2017
Mars leaves constellation Leo and enters Virgo.
Nov 20, 2017
Northern Summer, Southern Winter Solstice on Mars.
Dec 17, 2017
Apparent brightness of Mars exceeds +1.5 mag.
Dec 21, 2017
Mars leaves constellation Virgo and enters Libra.
Dec 26, 2017
Mars comes cloeser than 2.0 AU.
Jan 1, 2018
Mars is seen in the morning sky in constellation Libra at a distance of about 244 million km (1.63 AU) from Earth, at about +1.5 mag apparent brightness and 4.8" apparent diameter.
Jan 10, 2018
Apparent diameter of Mars exceeds 5".
Jan 31, 2018
Mars leaves constellation Libra and enters Scorpius.
Feb 8, 2018
Mars leaves constellation Scorpius and enters Ophiuchus.
Feb 15, 2018
Apparent brightness of Mars exceeds +1.0 mag.
Mar 11, 2018
Mars leaves constellation Ophiuchus and enters Sagittarius.
Mar 16, 2018
Mars passes the descending node of its orbit, moving to the south or Earth's orbital plane, the ecliptic, and getting southern ecliptic latitudes.
Mar 20, 2018
Apparent brightness of Mars exceeds +0.5 mag.
Apr 12, 2018
From Mars, Earth is at its greatest Eastern elongation from the Sun at about 40.82 d. Only 87.8 percent of the visible Mars hemisphere is illuminated.
Mars comes closer than 1.0 AU.
Apr 14, 2018
Apparent brightness of Mars exceeds 0.0 mag.
Apr 20, 2018
Apparent diameter of Mars exceeds 10".
May 5, 2018
InSight launch scheduled.
May 14, 2018
Mars leaves constellation Sagittarius and enters Capricorn.
May 23, 2018
Northern Autumn, Southern Spring Equinox on Mars.
May 24, 2018
Apparent brightness of Mars exceeds -1.0 mag.
May 30, 2018
Apparent diameter of Mars exceeds 15".
Jun 10, 2018
Apparent brightness of Mars exceeds -1.5 mag.
Jun 19, 2018
Mars coes closer than 0.5 AU.
Jun 26, 2018
Apparent brightness of Mars exceeds -2.0 mag
Apparent diameter of Mars exceeds 20".
Jun 28, 2018
Mars becomes stationary and then starts its retrograde opposition loop, as Earth passes between the Red Planet and the Sun.
Jul 12, 2018
Apparent brightness of Mars exceeds -2.5 mag.
Jul 27, 2018
Mars opposition on Earth, Earth in inferior conjunction on Mars. Apparent brightness of Mars reaches -2.78 mag in constellation Capricornus.
Jul 31, 2018
Closest approach of Mars and Earth (0.38496 AU = 57.59 million km). Apparent diameter of Mars is 24.31".
Aug 15, 2018
Apparent brightness of Mars becomes fainter than -2.5 mag.
Aug 21, 2018
Mars reaches its greatest southern heliocentric latitude (-1.8481 d).
Aug 24, 2018
Mars leaves constellation Capricorn and re-enters Sagittarius.
Aug 28, 2018
Mars becomes stationary, ends its retrograde opposition loop, and resumes apparent prograde motion.
Sep 1, 2018
Mars leaves constellation Sagittarius again and re-enters Capricornus.
Sep 5, 2018
Apparent brightness of Mars becomes fainter than -2.0 mag.
Mars' apparent diameter decreases below 20".
Sep 13, 2018
Mars moves beyond 0.5 AU.
Sep 16, 2018
Mars in Perihelion (1.38144 AU, 206.6 million km).
Sep 23, 2018
Apparent brightness of Mars becomes fainter than -1.5 mag.
Oct 6, 2018
Mars' apparent diameter decreases below 15".
Oct 14, 2018
Apparent brightness of Mars becomes fainter than -1.0 mag.
Oct 17, 2018
Northern Winter, Southern Summer Solstice on Mars.
Nov 6, 2018
Apparent brightness of Mars becomes fainter than -0.5 mag.
Nov 11, 2018
Mars leaves constellation Capricornus and enters Aquarius.
Nov 15, 2018
From Mars, Earth is at its greatest Western elongation from the Sun at about 44.3 deg. From Earth, Mars phase is minimal, angle is 44.3 deg. Only 85.8 percent of the visible Mars hemisphere is illuminated.
Nov 16, 2018
Moon occults Mars.
Nov 21, 2018
Mars' apparent diameter decreases below 10".
Nov 26, 2018
InSight spacecraft to arrive at and land on Mars.
Nov 29, 2018
Mars moves beyond 1.0 AU.
Dec 3, 2018
Apparent brightness of Mars becomes fainter than 0.0 mag.
Dec 21, 2018
Mars leaves constellation Aquarius and enters Pisces.
Jan 1, 2019
Mars is seen in the evening sky in constellation Pisces at a distance of about 189 million km (1.26 AU) from Earth, at about +0.5 mag apparent brightness and 7.4" apparent diameter.
Jan 3, 2019
Apparent brightness of Mars becomes fainter than +0.5 mag.
Jan 15, 2019
Mars passes the ascending node of its orbit, moving to the north or Earth's orbital plane, the ecliptic, and getting northern ecliptic latitudes.
Feb 12, 2019
Apparent brightness of Mars becomes fainter than +1.0 mag.
Feb 13, 2019
Mars leaves constellation Pisces and enters Aries.
Mar 13, 2019
Mars' apparent diameter decreases below 5".
Mar 23, 2019
Mars leaves constellation Aries and enters Taurus.
Mar 24, 2019
Northern Spring, Southern Autumn Equinox on Mars.
Mar 29, 2019
Mars moves beyond 2.0 AU.
Apr 8, 2019
Apparent brightness of Mars becomes fainter than +1.5 mag.
May 16, 2019
Mars leaves constellation Taurus and enters Gemini.
Jun 28, 2019
Mars leaves constellation Gemini and enters Cancer.
Jul 4, 2019
Moon occults Mars.
Jul 11, 2019
Mars at its least brightness (+1.82 mag).
Jul 19, 2019
Mars reaches its greatest northern heliocentric latitude (+1.8481 d).
Jul 31, 2019
Mars leaves constellation Cancer and enters Leo.
Aug 26, 2019
Mars in Aphelion (1.66606 AU, 249.2 million km).
Aug 30, 2019
Mars at its gratest distance from Earth (400.2 million km, 2.6753 AU).
Sep 2, 2019
Mars in conjunction with the Sun from Earth, in Leo. Earth in superior conjunction with the Sun as seen from Mars. Distance 400 million km (2.6746 AU), apparent diameter 3.501", brightness +1.74 mag. This conjunction ends the 2018 apparition of Mars. It also starts the 2020 apparition of Mars.

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Last Modification: March 9, 2016