Planet Mars Astronomy, History and Mythology

The astronomy, history and mythology associated with Earth's red neighboring planet Mars, including perihelions and aphelions, a closer look at the planet, pink skies and blue sunsets.

| September/October 1988

  • 113-086-01-mars_01
    Planet Mars facts on size and gravities in comparison to earth.
    PHOTO/ILLUSTRATION: NASA
  • 113-086-01-pix1
    THE ROTATION OF EARTH AND MARS 1. Despite their big difference in size, the 24-hour rotation periods (or "days") for Earth and MArs are about the sane. A day on Mars is slightly longer than here.
    NASA
  • 113-086-01-pix4
    ATMOSPHERE DENSITY. The "air" on Mars is about 10 times thinner than that on Earth and is composed almost entirely of carbon dioxide. Temperatures generally range from -120 degrees Fahrenheit nighttime lows to -20 degrees Fahrenheit daytime highs.
    NASA
  • 113-086-01-pix6
    RELATIVE TILT: Mars' axis tilt (which causes the change of seasons) is 25.1 degrees; Earth's is similar at 23.5 degrees.
    NASA
  • 113-086-01-pix5
    Figure 1 demonstrates that Mars will be in opposition (visible all night long) September 27-28, 1998.
    NASA
  • 113-086-01-pix2
    THE ROTATION OF EARTH AND MARS 2.
    NASA
  • 113-086-01-pix10
    In Figure 2, the numbers in parenthesis note the distances between Mars and Earth in millions of miles. Mars will be closest to Earth (36.3 million miles) on the night of September 21-22, 1998.
    NASA
  • 113-086-01-pix7
    ORBITS EXPLAINED: 1. Though Earth and Mars often draw even with each other, the three diagrams explain why our closest solar neighbor sometimes appears so much bigger and brighter to earth observers.
    NASA
  • 113-086-01-pix8
    ORBITS EXPLAINED: 2.
    NASA
  • 113-086-01-pix9
    ORBITS EXPLAINED: 3.
    NASA

  • 113-086-01-mars_01
  • 113-086-01-pix1
  • 113-086-01-pix4
  • 113-086-01-pix6
  • 113-086-01-pix5
  • 113-086-01-pix2
  • 113-086-01-pix10
  • 113-086-01-pix7
  • 113-086-01-pix8
  • 113-086-01-pix9

An introduction to the planet Mars: the history, astronomy and mythology associated with Earth's red neighboring planet. (See the Mars illustrations in the image gallery.)

Planet Mars Astronomy, History and Mythology

MARS HAS ALWAYS BOTH FASCINATED and frightened mankind. History shows that Babylonian priests and Roman soldiers were intrigued by Mars. More recently, public interest has been sparked by H. G. Wells, Ray Bradbury and Carl Sagan. And, in the not-too-distant future, American and Soviet space travelers may make Mars the first "fellow planet" our species has ever visited.

September 1988 provides the best opportunity in many years for a personal look at the planet. Not since 1971 has Mars been so close and bright, nor will it be again until 2003. And because our solar neighbor is far higher in the skies in 1988 than it was in 1971, this is the best time since 1954 for a telescopic look at the surface features of the red planet.

Of course, we can marvel at Mars even without a telescope. The three things that fascinated the ancients will still impress the naked-eye viewer of Mars today: the planet's color, its brightness and the tremendous way in which that brightness can increase.



How bright is Mars? At a close approach like the one this year, Mars greatly outshines all the stars. Jupiter, rising a few hours after Mars each night, is its only competition in the evening and midnight autumn sky. Mars reaches peak brilliance and outshines Jupiter in September and part of October, but then Jupiter, attaining its own maximum brightness in November, will take over and exceed Mars. But even when brighter, the almost imperceptibly yellow Jupiter is not nearly so striking as the more colorful red planet. Mars is certainly not stoplight red, but when it's very bright, its prominent deep orange hue does make the planet an imposing sight.

At Mars-rise, after 9:00 P.M. (daylight-saving time) as September begins, and after nightfall by late September and October, look due east. You'll see coming up the steady, unblinking stare of this ruddy planetary beacon that seemed to many ancient cultures to be stained with blood.






Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: February, 16-17 2019
Belton, TX

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!

LEARN MORE






Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).


Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard
Free Product Information Classifieds

}