It’s Summer – On Mars

A Martian Year

A Martian Year – at One Earth Month Intervals

   Sunday January 3rd is the summer solstice on the planet Mars as the planet transitions from spring to summer during its 684 Earth day orbit around the Sun. Seasons on Mars are marked by the planet’s heliocentric longitude coordinates using the position of Mars along its orbit around the Sun. Each seasonal start/ending point is 90 degrees apart, but because of its elliptical-shaped orbit each Martian season is of varying lengths. At the Martian summer solstice Mars is at 90 degrees longitude.
Click on graphic to see it full size.

Click on graphic to see it full size.

   I’m not exactly sure why this particular date is used but by international agreement astronomers have selected 11 April, 1955 as 0 degrees for year 1 of this Martian calendar. What this means is that on Sunday January 3rd, Earth time, it is the start of summer for year 33 using the aforementioned calendar system.

Year 33
0 degrees — Spring Equinox — June 18 2015
90 degrees — Summer solstice — January 03 2016
180 degrees — Fall Equinox — July 04 2016
270 degrees — Winter Solstice — November 28 2016
Year 34
0 degrees — Spring Equinox — May 05 2017
90 degrees — Summer solstice — November 20 2017
180 degrees — Fall Equinox — May 20 2018
270 degrees — Winter Solstice — October 16 2018

Learn a little (or a lot) more about Mars at the NASA/JPL Mars Curiosity mission web site.

Here is approximately 3 minutes worth of Mars from the Orbit performance.

Caution: Objects viewed with an optical aid are further than they appear.
   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information for this month.

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