This animation shows Comet Siding Spring’s path as it comes within 132,000 kilometres (82,000 miles) of Mars on 19 October 2014.
The Curiosity Mars rover used a camera on the end of its robot arm to take a selfie on the slopes of Mount Sharp before moving on to begin exploring nearby clay-rich soils. The rover is slowly working its way up the lower slopes of the mountain, looking for changes that might indicate the transition from warmer, wetter eras to the dry, frigid environment seen today.
Skywatchers in Western Europe looking in the southern sky at dusk on Thursday, 18 October can see the 9-day-old waxing gibbous Moon close to the upper left of Mars, the pair fitting comfortably in the same field of view of typical binoculars. This is also a good night for spotting some prominent martian features telescopically – seeing permitting!
With just a month to go until the 2016 opposition of Mars, the Red Planet is now visible very low in the southeast before midnight for observers in the heart of the UK. Mars and ringed planet Saturn are presently separated by just over 7 degrees — a low power, wide-angle binocular field of view. The waning gibbous Moon passes by on the mornings of 25—26 April.