Explore Calendar of Events Mars Close Approach Public Viewing Event, July 2018
July 30, 2018
10:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.
Griffith Observatory

Mars Close Approach Public Viewing Event, July 2018

Griffith Observatory hosted several thousand people to view the closest approach by Mars in 15 years. The Observatory also hosted a live online broadcast which was carried by NASA.

Upcoming Astronomical Observing at Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory provides a rare opportunity for the public to see the planet Mars at its closest to Earth for the next 17 years!

See it from Griffith Observatory

or

Watch it live on GriffithObservatoryTV: LiveStream or YouTube

For four hours, beginning on Monday night, July 30, at 10:00 p.m., Griffith Observatory provides a rare opportunity for you to see the planet Mars at its closest. On that evening, Earth and Mars will be 35.8 million miles from each other, the closest that they have been since the historic 34.6 million-mile close approach in August, 2003. By a celestial coincidence, at the same time, Mars will be at its very best position for viewing through a telescope from Los Angeles, as it crosses the meridian and appears highest in the southern sky. The next similar close approach won’t happen until September 11, 2035, when Mars will be 35.4 million miles away.

NOTE: Unlike an eclipse, Mars will not change in appearance during the course of the evening.

Important Visitor Guidance

  • Vermont entrance to Griffith Park closes at 12:00 midnight – NO vehicles admitted after that time, including taxis and shared rides.
  • Fern Dell entrance to Griffith Park closes at sunset.
  • DASH Observatory service to Metro station ends at 10:00 p.m.
  • No tour bus access to the Observatory after 7:30 p.m.
  • Please do not bring personal telescopes, blankets, chairs, coolers, etc.

Event/Close Approach Timeline

10:00 p.m. (grounds open) EVENT BEGINS
12:00 midnight Griffith Park gate closes
12:45 a.m. Mars at closest approach
2:00 a.m. EVENT ENDS

Access

  • Vermont entrance into Griffith Park will close at 12:00 midnight. It may close earlier if all parking is full.
    • If you are taking a shared ride or taxi to depart the event, that vehicle must be inside the park entrance by midnight.
  • Western Canyon/Fern Dell entrance into Griffith Park will close at sunset.
  • Expect significant congestion, likely road closures, and possible park closure.
  • DASH Observatory bus service from the Sunset/Vermont Metro station ends, as usual, at 10:00 p.m.

Parking

  • Limited paid parking on/near Observatory (free after 10:00 p.m.)
  • Most parking is available in the Greek Theatre area (free all day).

Advice for Visiting

  • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes suitable for walking uphill (up to 1.5 miles)
  • Bring water.
  • Please do not bring blankets, chairs, coolers, tripods, furniture, or similar items. There will not be room on the lawn, because it will be filled with telescopes!
  • Please do not bring personal telescopes.
  • Expect very large crowds, traffic delays, limited parking, and road/park closures.

Bad Weather Plan

If rain is forecast for the close approach by Sunday, July 29, at 3:00 p.m., the event will be canceled. We shall post a notice on our homepage if rain is likely.