It’s Opposition Night Tonight and a Lunar Eclipse

Keeping on with the space theme this week it happens to be Mars opposition night tonight. The opposition of Mars happens every 26 months. This year it will be the best Mars opposition since 2003. This is the one night that Mars is directly opposite the sun. With it being directly opposite of the sun it will appear very bright in the sky.

Mars (NASA/ESA and The Hubble Heritage)

If you have a telescope, pin it to Mars on July 31 as it rises in the southern part of the sky. It will have an apparent magnitude[^1] of -2.7 on the 31st. Normally it will have an apparent magnitude of -0.5 (bearly visible to the naked eye.)  Also, if you happened to live under a rock and missed the big news this week think about this while you stare at Mars. A radar-equipped probe detected concrete evidence of liquid water on Mars 1.5 Km beneath the planet’s southern pole.

According to Roberto Orosei, of the Italian Space Agency[^2] –

“We discovered water on Mars,” Orosei said, in a video interview released with the study.

Now that is exciting!  Check out this radiogram that illustrates the reflection found by the MARSIS system[^3] on the Mars Express Orbiter

MARSIS reading suggesting liquid water about 1.5 kilometres under the southern pole. (ESA / NASA / JPL / ASI / Univ. Rome; R. Orosei et al 2018)

And it’s a celestial two-fer with the Lunar Eclipse and a blood moon. For those living in Africa, the Middle East, southern Asia and the Indian Ocean region you will get to partake in the display, depending on the weather. Lucky you, you will get to witness the longest total lunar eclipse of the century. I’m going to miss out on the eclipse as I live in Canada. If you happen to be in Africa, the Middle East, southern Asia or the Indian Ocean region and snap a shot of the eclipse add it to the comments below (might end up with a surprise.)

It’s going to last for about 1 hour and 43 minutes so you should have plenty of time to grab a shot.  According to the best time will be 20:21 GMT.  The eclipse will last from 19:30 to 21:13 GMT.

I took this picture last night, at around midnight. It was an eerie night with the mist and almost daylight brightness.

Eerie backyard photo of Mars and the full moon (Jasonbu)

Don’t forget. I’m running a 10SBD contest.  If you enter a name into the ESA contest to name the next ESA Mars Rover you have a chance to win!  Check out my contest post.

Name the EXOMARS Rover CONTEST – 10SBD

Head over to my contest post and make sure you enter the ExoMars Rover contest. 

Is your Witness dance card full? If not, vote for some of the good Witnesses below.




About jasonbu 56 Articles
I'm a wannabe extrovert and an Interweb nerd who has spent the past 25+ years in the software industry. My first 10 years at Microsoft. I've served in the Canadian Military; I'm a humanist; I love coffee; love all things science and love spending time with my family.