The Red Planet last made its closest approach to Earth on July 27-28, 2018, its best apparition since 2003. The planet only reaches opposition every 2 years and 50 days, which means there is no opposition in 2019; and the planet will remain dim and distant for the entire year.
The next closest approach of Mars to Earth (opposition) comes on October 13, 2020.
In early to mid-2019, Mars slowly moves towards the western horizon each day, but it remains visible in the southwestern sky after sunset. It’s relatively bright compared to the nearby stars and it shines a distinctive ochre color. The planet appears to move closer to the Sun until it reaches conjunction on September 2, 2019, its farthest point from Earth, when it is lost in the Sun’s glare. By early October 2019, Mars reappears in the morning sky before sunrise and begins, slowly, rising earlier each day on its way to opposition in twelve month’s time. Still, though it is difficult to see much detail on Mars this year, even in a big telescope, it’s always a great time to learn about the planet.
Here’s a complete guide to the planet Mars and tips on how to observe it during its next apparition.