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Mars at Opposition July 27: Special UA Viewing Party July 31

Mars and Earth line up with the Sun on July 27. Mars is thus at opposition and is up all night. This year opposition happens when Mars is at approximately its closest point to the Sun (actually Sept 15) and while the Earth is at approximately its furthest point (actually July 6) , making Mars close, relatively big in the sky, and relatively bright. The two planets will only be 35.8 million miles apart. Telescope observations should be superb if the dust storm on Mars starts to die down. Steward Observatory, Flandrau Planetarium and the Planetary Science Department (LPL) have teamed up to offer observing BOTH at Steward's 21" telescope and at Flandrau's 16" telescope. Smaller telescopes will also be available on the UA Mall. Note that because it's monsoon season, the telescopes can only be open if the weather cooperates. There are other events, with talks led by LPL. We now cut and paste from a Steward press release. Another press release can be found HERE. Please note that you won't be able to tell that Mars is "big" without a small telescope. Mars is already quite bright, but neither the bigness nor the brightness rival the full Moon (by a very large amount). So please don't believe the spam that circulates every Martian opposition.

UA press release: "See Mars like never before! Mars will be closer to the Earth on Tuesday, July 31, than it has been in many years. To take advantage of this viewing opportunity, Flandrau and the UA Steward Observatory will host a “Mars Magnified” event that night. The telescopes in both the Steward Observatory and Flandrau observatory will be focused on Mars and open to the public for free. The evening event will launch with a special presentation about Mars in Flandrau’s Eos Planetarium Theater.

NOTE: Telescope viewing will be available WEATHER PERMITTING. If it is cloudy, we won’t be able to see Mars. The planetarium presentation and shows will proceed regardless of clear or cloudy skies.

Red, rocky, bright in the night sky, Mars has fascinated humans for centuries. More NASA missions have travelled to Mars than to any other planet. And scientific exploration continues to reveal surprises about our astronomical neighbor.

This July, the orbit of Mars will bring it closer to the Earth than it has been in many years, providing the opportunity for a “close up” look at the planet. To take advantage of this unique proximity, the UA Steward Observatory and Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium have teamed up to create a special viewing event, Mars Magnified. Both Steward’s historic Raymond E. White 21-in telescope (the largest telescope on campus), and Flandrau’s 16-in Cassegrain telescope, will be focused on the Red Planet. Both telescopes will be open to the public for free from 9pm to 2am on the evening of Tuesday, July 31, when Mars will be brightest in the night sky. This will be the best opportunity to see Mars for decades to come.

Thanks to support from the UA Lunar & Planetary Lab (LPL), the evening will begin with a special presentation, “Mars Madness,” by planetary scientist Steve Kortenkamp, Associate Professor of Practice at LPL. Kortenkamp’s presentation, at 8pm in the Eos Planetarium Theater at Flandrau, will review the history of Martian exploration, explain why Mars is now so close to Earth, and give an overview of the other planets visible in the night sky at this time of year. After Kortenkamp’s presentation, there will be planetarium shows every hour on the hour with a final show at 12am.

In addition to Mars, there will be other planets to see in the sky that night, including Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and our very own Moon. Telescopes will be provided on the UA Mall in front of Flandrau thanks to volunteers from the Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter, Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association, the Lunar and Planetary Lab, and Steward Observatory. Each celestial body will have a telescope dedicated to it so that visitors can make the rounds and see each planet in turn.

All the telescopes will be free and open to the public. The “Mars Madness” special presentation, Planetarium Shows, and Laser Music Shows are $5 each and are offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Please note, telescope viewing requires a clear sky so it is “weather permitting,” but the “Mars Madness” presentation and planetarium shows will run regardless of clear or cloudy skies.

The Steward Observatory building is located on Cherry Ave., diagonally across the street from Flandrau. See map below for orientation.

For more information about observing Mars through the Steward Observatory telescope, contact Dr. Thomas Fleming (520) 621-5049 or

Come join the fun and see Mars Magnified for an experience you’ll never forget.

Visit for more information.


Mars Magnified Event:

When: Tuesday, July 31. 8pm to 2am

Where: Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium, Steward Observatory, UA Mall.

What: Outstanding opportunity to see the surface of Mars through a telescope. Special presentation about Mars.

Cost: Telescope viewing is free. The “Mars Madness” Presentation, Planetarium Shows, and Laser Music Shows are $5 each, and will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis.


Mars Magnified Planetarium Theater Schedule:

8pm – “Mars Madness” special presentation by Steve Kortenkamp

9pm – Laser Stranger Things (laser light music show)

10pm – Touring the Solar System: UA in Space Edition (planetarium show)

11pm – Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon (laser light music show)

12am – Laser Stranger Things (laser light music show)


Click HERE


For more information about Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium visit or call 520-621-4516.

Flandrau Parking Information:

Flandrau is located on the University of Arizona campus on the northeast corner of Cherry Avenue and University Boulevard. Free parking is available on the University of Arizona campus on weekends, and after 5pm Fridays in metered spaces and many parking lots. Parking is also available in the UA Cherry Avenue Garage.

Also, Flandrau is just one block from the Sun Link Streetcar’s 2nd Street/Cherry Avenue stop, and there are plenty of bike racks nearby.



Shipherd Reed, Associate Director of Communications, Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium, 520-626-2304,



Steward Observatory is home to the Department of Astronomy at the University of Arizona. For more information about public outreach from the UA Steward Observatory, visit

The Steward Observatory Fall Public Lecture Series begins Monday, September 17

Steward Observatory website

(end of cutting and pasting of the release)"


For more information about Steward Observatory public outreach programs contact Catherine Duncan, (520) 621-1320,



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