Mars Section Overview

Richard McKim
Dr Richard McKim

The BAA Mars Section is the oldest body in the world for the collection and analysis of observations of the Red Planet. It was formed in 1892 by E. Walter Maunder, the Greenwich astronomer who founded the British Astronomical Association. The present Director (right) has been responsible for all analysis since the apparition of 1979-80.

Your contribution, however small, will be much appreciated and will be acknowledged in the reports which appear in the Journal, while selected current work will appear on this website. The ‘current observations’ part of the website is updated often, and the one for this year has become so large it had to be split into two parts, so please check back frequently to see some of the current work, with a running commentary.

This website also provides a guide to how to go about making observations, gives a selection of topographic and telescopic maps, a gallery of observations and a running commentary on the current Mars opposition, and downloadable reports on all past oppositions. There is also a bit of biographical information about past Directors, and some little bits of history here and there. There is also information about the comprehensive BAA dust storms Memoir, and how to obtain your copy.

Some of our longstanding contributors post images to other well-known archiving websites. This is fine for routine work, but I would ask observers who post elsewhere to let me know at once please if they see something really interesting. The current (2020 November) Regional dust storm is a case in point, and I can only obtain images for analysis from online sources when those pages have been updated!

Remember to send in your observations to the Section and become part of the Great British Marswatch effort!


The 2022 Mars Blog is now open (2022 March 25)

All updates on the 2022 Mars Opposition will be collected on the 2022 Mars Blog page.


Final call for Mars observations (2021 July 6)

This is a final call for Mars observations of the 2020 opposition. There have been a few Interim reports in the Journal, and another will appear in the next issue. Now I am busy with finishing the final report. I have received a great deal of observational work from members, but it would be nice to give credit to all those others who, although posting images upon their individual member pages, have not (perhaps owing to false modesty) sent them to the Director. All observations are welcome, and sometimes an apparently less detailed one can, through luck with its timing, fill a critical gap in the record. Please find my contact details at the back of the Journal, and please state telescope, camera (if applicable) and your location when sending work to me. All contributions will be acknowledged by email. The final Section report ought to be completed and submitted to Council at the end of August, prior to the planet’s conjunction with the Sun.

Richard McKim, Director

Mars 2020 Albedo Map

  • The 2022 Mars Opposition Blog
  • Special Features For Observation
  • Maps of Mars
  • Instruments and observing techniques
  • 2020 Mars Opposition Observations Part 2 (from 20 September)
  • 2020 Mars Opposition Observations Part 1 (up to 19 September)
  • Read reports on past oppositions of Mars
  • History of the Mars Section
  • The Director's monograph on Telescopic Martian Dust Storms
  • Report Forms, observing cards and graticules
  • Publications by the Director
  • An Introduction to the Mars Section
  • The British Astronomical Association supports amateur astronomers around the UK and the rest of the world. Find out more about the BAA or join us.