Skygazing – Take a Telescope Ride Around The Planet Mars

Anyone with a bit of knowledge about the skygazing is very much interested in Mars’s importance. It is the fourth planet of the Solar system.

Before moving towards looking at it through a telescope, if you find out what to expect on it, you might be able to locate it in a somewhat more straightforward and better way.

The professional Astronomers employ Hubble space and other space telescopes or higher resolutions that give out every slight detail of the planet. However, with your reflective telescope, you will be able to observe only some of those critical areas.

Skygazing – Discovery of Mars

Mars is a planet that is easily seen with the naked eye. Therefore, it’s exact discovery time runs to the very ancient civilizations. However, Galileo Galilei in 1610, observed Mars for the very first time by using a telescope.

The probability of life on Mars started a long time ago. Several pieces of research and observations led to the belief that water was present on Mars. Hence, the idea of the possibility of life on Mars became more and more popular.

Percival Lowell claimed to see a network of canals on Mars. However, later it was concluded that those were only optical illusions. Similarly, many details and observations came out about Mars, some exciting, and others disappointing.

Simultaneously, others were quite hopeful initially but did not turn out to be advantageous for further research.

Hence, the journey of studying Mars has been a roller coaster from the very beginning.

Skygazing – Formation of the Planet Mars

A hypothesis states that the formation of Mars started from a massive ball of gas and dust. The gravitational force pulled enough material to build the fourth planet that we call Mars.

The distance of Mars from the Sun

Mars is about 227.9 million km away from the Sun. The sunlight takes about 13 minutes to reach Mars from the Sun.

Size of the Mars

The diameter of Mars is approximately 6.7 kilometers. It is slightly more than half of the diameter of the Earth.

Rotation of Planet Mars

The planet completes one rotation around its own axis in around 24.6 hours (so close to the Earth!). However, it takes about 669 days to complete the whole trip around the Sun – which comprises a year!

Distance from the Earth

The distance of Mars from the Earth at the closest point decreases slightly, and according to certain research, it will continue to drop for the next 25 thousand years.

Structure

Mars has a dense core comprising of iron, nickel, and sulfur. The iron sulfide core is rich in lighter elements. A silicate mantle surrounds the central core, which forms the tectonic plates and is responsible for the volcanoes on the planet.
In addition to iron, nickel, and sulfur – silicon, oxygen, magnesium, aluminum, calcium, and potassium are also abundant within the Earth’s crust.

Skygazing – Magnetosphere of Mars

The space scientists believe that Mars lost its magnetosphere that it had initially. As the asteroids and the solar winds interacted with the surface of Mars, some atoms detached away from its outer layer, thereby decreasing the atmosphere’s thickness.

Atmosphere of Mars

Mars’ atmosphere has about 96% carbon dioxide, 1.93% argon, and 1.89% nitrogen, oxygen, and water. Some researchers claim that in addition to these, methane is also present.

Climate

Spring in the northern hemisphere lasts for about 194 days. Autumn in the northern hemisphere is the shortest season, which stays for 142 days. Northern winter lasts 154 days, while northern summer lasts for about 178 days.

Temperature on Mars

The temperature on Mars on an average scale is -60 degrees celsius. However, during the winters, it goes as low as -125 degrees celsius near the poles.

Surface of Mars

Planet Mars is also known as the “Red Planet” because of having many colors – such as brown, gold, and tan. The surface shows many shreds of evidence of rivers, deltas, and lakes.

Mars has two polar ice caps as well. During winters, the poles lie in sheer darkness. Both polar caps consist of water ice.

There are northern plains flattened by lava, whereas the southern highlands that are pitted and cratered.
The blowing of wind on Mars gives rise to the formation of dunes, including parallel ridges. It also has dust devils that blow to leave beautiful curlicues behind.

Moons

Mars has two moons – Phobos and Deimos. They are very small, with Phobos having a diameter of about 25 kilometers and Deimos having a diameter of just 15 kilometers.
They strongly resemble the asteroids. Hence there is speculation that the gravity of Mars pulled them from some adjacent asteroid belt.

Possibility of Life

Out of all nine planets of our Solar System, Mars appears to have the highest chances of human survival. However, the conditions are still harsh.

Future missions are under planning to take soil samples from Mars’ surface and analyze them to maintain life.

Skygazing – How Does Mars Look Like from Telescope?

If you are fond of astronomy and wish to employ a telescope for the purpose of observing planets and stars – Mars can be a good target to start with. However, Mercury and Venus are not quite easy to observe by normal reflective telescope because of the fact that they are very close to the Sun and produce glare.

When you see Mars through a reflective telescope, it will appear somewhat dull red in color. However, the poles will appear white. The surface of Mars will have dark marks as compared to the brighter color of the surface.

Wrapping Up

Although you will not be able to view everything with a reflective telescope, there is good news, and that is: some telescope filters can help you view a better image of Mars. Adding a blue filter on the eyepiece of your telescope enhances the icecaps present on the surface of Mars.

A red filter will help you differentiate between the deserts and the rest of the planet by lightening up the desert areas. A green filter, on the other hand, will increase the overall contrast of the image, thereby giving you a better picture of the planet’s surface.