2018 truly has been a wonderful year for astronomy, specifically planetary astronomy! And our nearest neighbour, the Red planet Mars, takes centre stage this July. Keep an eye out for it in the night sky as it approaches opposition, it is expected to overtake Jupiter in brightness and will be one of the brightest objects in the night sky.
Mars will reach opposition on 27th of July when it will appear larger and brighter, perfect for studying the polar ice caps or the surface detail of the planet (known as albedo markings) caused by the movement of surface dust on Mars. If all that sounds a bit too technical, you could always just enjoy a close encounter with Mars and challenge yourself to spots its moons, Phobos and Deimos (they are rather small and can be overshadowed by the planet’s brightness).
The last time Mars was in opposition was more than a decade ago in 2003, and the next time will be in 2035. So this is a rare and superb opportunity for budding astronomers and enthusiasts alike.
Most colour filters will improve viewing of Mars, so why not try the colour filters in the saxon Colour Planetary Filter Set? The #12 Yellow, #23A Red, and #80A Blue filters will improve contrasts of various features visible on the planet.
Image sourced from: earthsky.org.space.com