Dusty Mars – The 2018 Apparition of Mars
Mars reached opposition with the Sun on July 27, 2018 and made it closest approach to us on July 31st when it was only 35.8 million miles from Earth. Although this year’s apparition of Mars provided us with our closest look at Mar’s since 2003, a small dust storm developed on Mars in May and by June had grown so large that it covered the entire planet. As a result, a lot amateur astronomers here on Earth were disappointed to find the typical surface features observable during an opposition of Mars were lost behind a shroud of dust. However as the dust began to settle, the anticipation of detecting changes to these surface details from the dust storm began to replace some of the disappointment of observing a virtually featureless globe of Mars during the height of the dust storm.
This month’s presentation will review how these dust storms develop and progress on Mars and how over time they have changed the observable features on Mars. We will also explore what we have to look forward to in future apparitions of Mars.
Speaker - Bill Flanagan
Bill has been an active amateur astronomer since he built his first telescope (a 6” f/8 reflector) when he was a teenager. He became fascinated with Mars when he pointed his newly built telescope at Mars during the 1969 opposition. Bill still looks forward to what interesting things Mars has to show us every two years when it passes close to Earth. In 2005 he began imaging Mars from his backyard and has recorded every apparition since. Bill also has been a member of HAS since 1987, serving on the board of directors and as Treasurer and Secretary over various times from 1996 to 2015.