Mars has a thin atmosphere and has some weather. Winds blow up dust that obscures the surface features. For the past month, Mars has been experiencing a dust storm that is one of the largest on record. It has encircled the planet and has diminished light reaching the solar panels on our landers and rovers that are on the surface.

For those of us closely observing Mars, it means there are no features visible. This is a bit frustrating, but it will pass. The winds will die down, the dust will settle, the spacecraft should recover, and features will once again become visible. For now, we wait. Mars has just passed opposition (on July 27). This is when it is closest, brightest and largest.

Come join us on Public Night at the observatory on the first Friday each month from sunset to 10 p.m. We have lots of planets to explore:humbleisd.net/observatory..

Aaron Clevenson
Author: Aaron ClevensonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I am the observatory director at the Insperity Observatory in Humble ISD. I am also an adjunct astronomy professor at Lone Star College-Montgomery where I teach solar system astronomy and stars and galaxies astronomy. I am the author of the astronomy textbook, “Astronomy for Mere Mortals.” I am a past president of the North Houston Astronomy Club, and was the chair of Astronomy Day in Southeast Texas in 2015 and 2016. He is an observing program director with The Astronomical League, coordinates their Master Observer Progression Awards, and has authored six of their observing programs.