Mars on June 5, 2018
South Polar Cap & Syrtis Major Dominates Mars
Another morning spent with Mars.  Mars is now 16 arcseconds in size and growing. It is
ripe for observing every clear/stable night for the next couple of months.  This morning the
sky over my house had extended periods of stable air and with Syrtis Major (the darkest
feature on Mars) pointed towards Earth, Mars was accommodating.  Syrtis Major and
Syrtis Minor were very dark and stood out on the reddish planet.  The splitting of the dark
fingers of Sinus Sabaeus, Mare Serpentis and Hellespontus were subtle as they
prepared to rotate out of view on the horizon.  The South Polar cap, for the first time this
opposition, could be seen with irregularities along its border indicating that it has started
to shrink and split (remember south is up in the drawing).   Utopia was mostly hidden by
clouds and/or the North Polar Hood.  Hellas (the largest impact basin on Mars) is pretty
much free of frost and was harder to make out than expected.  To me it appeared patchy
at best.  Plenty going on with Mars and it was well worth getting up a bit early.