Highland Road Park Observatory


Thursday 26 July from 6:30 pm to 12:30 am
No admission fee. For all ages.
Binocular strongly recommended.


Every twenty-six months the planet Earth♁ catches up to the planet Mars♂, which orbits the Sun☉ more slowly. As this happens, Mars♂ rises earlier in the night sky and increases in angular size. Due to the fact that Earth♁’s and Mars♂’ orbits are not perfect circles, some oppositions are closer than others. During the last week of July, Earth♁ will be closer to Mars♂ than it has been in fifteen years. This is an excellent opportunity for formal and informal educators; viewers, sketchers and photographers; and families and children. This “Great Martian Opposition” will yield the best view of the Red Planet since before many current high schoolers were born. The large Syrtis Major region and the southern polar cap both will be visible through at least October (a transient dust storm notwithstanding).


  • Mon 2 Jul = apparent size exceeds 21" in angular size
  • Wed 4 Jul = Mars♂ rises at about 10:00 pm CDT
  • Wed 11 Jul = magnitude reaches -2.5 [!!!] in magnitude and rises at about 9:30 pm CDT
  • Wed 18 Jul = Mars♂ rises at about 9:00 pm CDT
  • Mon 23 Jul = apparent size exceeds 24" [!!!] in angular size
  • Tue 24 Jul = Mars♂ rises at about 8:30 pm CDT
  • Thu 26 Jul, 6:30 pm to 12:30 am CDT = Great Martian Opposition
    HRPO open to the general public. {magnitude -2.79}
  • Mon 31 Jul, 2:51 am CDT = Mars♂’ Closest Approach
    HRPO not open to the general public.
  • Thu 9 Aug = last nighttime period for 24"
  • Sat 18 Aug = last nighttime period for magnitude -2.5
  • Fri 31 Aug = last nighttime period for 21"


  • 6:45 pm to 9:45 pm = Martian demos, exhibits, experiments and games
  • 7:45 pm to 8:15 pm = Mercury☿ viewing
  • 8:00 pm to 9:30 pm = Venus♀ viewing
  • 9:00 pm to 9:45 pm = Ceres viewing
  • 9:00 pm to 12:30 am = Waxing Gibbous Moon viewing
  • 9:17 pm = visible pass of Tiangong 2
  • 9:25 pm = visible pass of Cosmos 2297 Rocket
  • 9:29 pm = visible pass of Cosmos 2098 Rocket
  • 9:30 pm to 11:30 pm = Jupiter♃ viewing
  • 9:30 pm to 12:30 am = Mars♂ viewing
  • 9:38 pm = visible pass of Cosmos 1825
  • 9:40 pm = visible pass of Cosmos 2227 Rocket
  • 9:45 pm to 12:30 am = Vesta viewing
  • 10:00 pm to 12:30 am = Saturn♄ viewing
  • 11:30 pm to 12:30 am = Neptune♆ viewing
  • {˜11:45 am to 12:15 am = Opposition of Mars♂}



  • Admission = $0.00
  • Binocular Checkout = $0 to $1.00
  • City Gelato = $4.00 to $7.00
  • Sci-Fi Bookmark Collection = $5.50
  • HRPO T-Shirt = $6.25 to $7.00
  • “Lunar 100” Map Card = $7.75
  • Mini Die-Cast Shuttle = $8.00
  • Viper Chemical Rocket = $14.00


  • Please do not set up your lawn chair or blanket without receiving direction from staff. Visitors may only use the grass area south of the 16OGS building. Please do not lie down on any concrete, as your body and belongings would be a tripping hazard.
  • Personal equipment that requires placement on the ground (telescopes and cameras) all not allowed. Handheld binoculars are allowed and encouraged.
  • No white lights are allowed. White light destroys night vision. Please keep headlights off. Please outfit your white flashlights with red construction paper, a red stretch balloon, red cellophane (several layers may be needed to make the light suitably dim) or a thin coat of red nail polish. Please do not use your personal device in a telescope dome or outside the building unless the device currently has a red glow.
  • If a telescope is not in operation, please do not handle it in any way. If a telescope is in operation, please wait until it’s your turn and place your eye to the eyepiece without touching the telescope.
  • No glass containers are allowed.
  • Pets and animals must remain under control and on a leash at all times.
  • Litter and refuse are to be placed in proper receptacles.
  • Running is not allowed outside at night, or inside at any time.
  • Food and drink are not allowed in either of the two large telescope domes.
  • Alcohol, smoking and loud music are not allowed. Please utilize headphones or earphones so that only you hear your music.
  • It is disallowed for any person to be on BREC property after dark. HRPO grounds are the only BREC property on which the public is invited for the Martian Opposition. All of the general public must vacate HRPO grounds after 12:30 am.

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Created by Frederick J. Barnett on Thursday, July 5, 2018, 12:00 PM.