Mars on August 28, 2003

This image shows Mars at opposition. Mars was closer to Earth than at any time within the past approximately 60,000 years. The planet had an apparent size of 25.11 arc-seconds, which is the maximum possible size that Mars can have as seen from Earth. Mars was at its closest to us just three days before Martian perihelion, and this coincidence is what made this opposition so exceptional. Mars was perfectly aligned with Earth and the Sun, and therefore was 100 percent illuminated. Details on the planet's surface could be easily seen even with the most modest-aperature telescopes. The distance between Earth and Mars at closest approach was 55,758,006 kilometers. The last time Mars came this near to Earth was 57,617 B.C., according to Sky & Telescope Magazine senior editor Roger Sinnott. Mars will not be closer to Earth until August 28, 2287, when the planet will be only 70,000 kilometers nearer.

This image of Mars was taken from my backyard in Scottsdale, Arizona, using a ToUcam web cam on a FCT-150 refractor with a Televue 4x PowerMate and Vari-Extender. The focal length was about f45. The images were aligned and stacked with Registax.

Constellation: Aquarius
RA: 22h 38m 02.2s Dec: -15d 47' 00"
August 28, 2003
Image by Sid Leach
Scottsdale, Arizona

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