Mars Opposition Blog 31 May 2024

More observers have now joined in. Highlights since the last post are: (1) During April 21-25 Clyde Foster caught a light patch of dust lying along the E. part of Valles Marineris, east of Aurorae Sinus, which was then accessible to him fairly close to the evening terminator. Spacecraft data show that this was a regional dust event that had spread somewhat further. Regions to the immediate E. looked nearly normal as they became visible from his longitude, but were lacking somewhat in contrast. During April 23-25 what appears to have been a dust streak elongated in the E-W direction can be made out near the N. edge of the SPC. (If Pandorae Fretum subsequently darkens, it will show that dust excavation had occurred as far as those longitudes.) (2) Some other local dust activity has been spotted along the N. edge of the S. polar cap. For example Foster’s image of May 27 shows a streaky bright area which can be seen in IR, R and G, but not in B. (3) The seasonal separation of Novus Mons from the spring SPC was complete at Ls = 238o in 2020. At that seasonal date in 2024 the disk diameter was below 5”, but nevertheless Foster’s images of Apr 29-May 6 (Ls = 245-250o) show the cap elongated in the correct longitude, with a hint of separation on the best images on some days. A trace of the much decayed outlier was caught by Mark Lonsdale on May 22 (Ls = 260o), but only the best images will have a chance of resolving it.

Now is the best time to watch for more significant dust storm activity and I encourage those of you able to rise early to monitor the planet whenever you can in order to maintain continuity of coverage.

Mars 27 May 2024 by Clyde Foster

Mars 22 May 2024 by W M Lonsdale

Mars 24 April 2024 by Clyde Foster

Previous Post – 7 April 2024

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.