Mars Watch 2003 Facts

On the night of August 26–27 Mars passes closer to us than it has in 60,000 years. For all practical purposes, Mars will appear just about as big and bright for the remainder of August and all of September. At this time Mars shines many times brighter than any other star in the summer sky.

Some Mars facts

Closest approach and Maximum size: On August 27th at 5:51am ET. Earth and Mars will be 34,646,418 miles apart and will appear 25.11 arc-seconds across at magnitude –2.9.

Previous closer approach: 57,617 BC
Next approach closer: 2287 and Mars will appear 25.14”

Other oppositions:     1971 24.9” mag -2.8
                                    2001 20.8” mag -2 and 43 million miles away
                                    1999 16.2” mag -1.6 and  54 million miles away

Oppositions happen approximately 2 years and 2 months apart.

Diameter: 4,222 miles

Gravity: 100 lbs on Earth = 37.9 lbs on Mars

Moons: Phobos and Deimos

Seasons: Right now the southern hemisphere is tilted toward us and the sun. For the southern hemisphere spring equinox was in May and the Summer solstice is in September. Presently the southern ice cap is melting.

Atmosphere: Ground level pressure is similar to the Earth’s atmospheric pressure at 70,000 ft. Liquid water can’t stay on the surface long. The composition is 96.5% carbon dioxide, small amounts of oxygen with nitrogen, carbon monoxide, argon, neon and krypton included.

Temperature: Rarely gets above freezing and can go as low as –225 C. Average temperature is –55 C or –67 F

Average distance from the sun: 141.6 million miles (earth is 92.6 million miles for an average distance between Mars and Earth of 49 million miles).

Reddish soil is due to iron oxide.

Largest volcano  – Hellas

Largest Mountian – Olympus Mons 78,600 ft above the surrounding plateu.

Largest canyon: Valles Marineris – 2,485 miles long, 3.29 miles deep and 12.4 miles wide.

Largest impact crater and deepest point: Hellas Planitia. An impact crater in the southern hemisphere up to 4.8 miles deep and 1,243 miles in diameter.

Solar day: 24 hours, 39 minutes and 35 seconds

Year: 669.6 Martian solar days or 687 Earth days.

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Last updated March 12, 2004 by Bill Castro