The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE, captured this view of a recent impact crater on the Red Planet. According to a NASA description, “the new crater and its ejecta have distinctive color patterns. Once the colors have faded in a few decades, this new crater will still be distinctive compared to the secondaries by having a deeper cavity compared to its diameter.” North is up.
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.
Now just ten weeks from opposition, Mars is growing in both apparent size and brightness in the pre-dawn sky as the distance between our two worlds decreases. On the morning of Wednesday, 16 March, around the onset of UK nautical twilight, the Red Planet passes just 0.15 degrees from double star Graffias in the constellation Scorpius.