British Astronomical Association
Supporting amateur astronomers since 1890

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BAA Observing Sections

Mars Section

The BAA Mars Section is the oldest body in the world for the collection and analysis of observations of the Red Planet. It was formed in 1892 by E. Walter Maunder, the Greenwich astronomer who founded the British Astronomical Association. The present Director (right) has been responsible for all analysis since the apparition of 1979-80.

Your contribution, however small, will be much appreciated and will be acknowledged in the reports which appear in the Journal, while selected current work will appear on this website. The 'current observations' part of the website is updated often, and the one for this year has become so large it had to be split into two parts, so please check back frequently to see some of the current work, with a running commentary.

This website also provides a guide to how to go about making observations, gives a selection of topographic and telescopic maps, a gallery of observations and a running commentary on the current Mars opposition, and downloadable reports on all past oppositions. There is also a bit of biographical information about past Directors, and some little bits of history here and there. There is also information about the comprehensive BAA dust storms Memoir, and how to obtain your copy.

One small point. It is excellent to see members posting their observations at their own pages, but unless they send their images or drawings directly to me I will not make use of them, because I do not have the time to search for them. This also applies to any images that might happen to appear in the 'Recent Observations' feed on this page UNLESS THEY ARE SPECIFICALLY SENT TO ME. This feed is generated automatically from the member pages, and has nothing to do with the Section. It may be that you feel your images are not good enough to send in, but even average quality images can fill a gap in the records, and by sending them in you will get some feedback from me. 

Some of our longstanding contributors post images to other well-known archiving websites. This is fine for routine work, but I would ask observers who post elsewhere to let me know at once please if they see something really interesting. The current (2020 November) Regional dust storm is a case in point, and I can only obtain images for analysis from online sources when those pages have been updated!

2020 is a very good year for Mars, so send in your observations to the Section and become part of the Great British Marswatch effort!

Richard McKim, Director

Most recent update: 

2020 November 25:

Status of the current large Regional dust storm [See Part 2 of the 2020 opposition narrative]

dust 

The current Regional dust storm compared with an earlier event from 2005:

The 2020 Mars opposition blog page is updated regularly. See the link to it on the right-hand side of this front page. 

We have also recently updated the past oppositions page: thanks to the efforts of Stuart and Andrew Morris, all of our publications back to 1892 are now available online!