Looking to catch a glimpse of Mars this fall? You’re in luck! Here’s everything you need to know to spot the Red Planet rising in the night sky.
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As the weather cools and the days grow shorter, stargazers across the Northern Hemisphere can look forward to a special treat in the evening sky: Mars will appear prominently from dusk until dawn, reaching opposition on October 13th.
This month and next, the Red Planet will rise in the east just as the Sun sets in the west. It will then climb highest in the sky around midnight and remain there until dawn. By late October, Mars will appear about 35% brighter than it does now. And by mid-November, it will shine more than twice as bright as it does today.
What is Mars?
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second-smallest planet in the Solar System, after Mercury. Named after the Roman god of war, it is often described as the “Red Planet” because the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance. Mars is a terrestrial planet with a thin atmosphere, having surface features reminiscent both of the impact craters of the Moon and the valleys, deserts, and polar caps of Earth.
Mars is the fourth planet from the sun and is known as the Red Planet. The rocks on Mars are red because of the high iron content in the planet’s mantle. Mars is a terrestrial planet with a thin atmosphere composed mostly of carbon dioxide.
Mars has two moons, Phobos and Deimos, which are small and irregular in shape. The Martian day, or sol, is 24 hours 39 minutes and 35.244 seconds long. A year on Mars is 687 Earth days long.
The Martian surface is dusty and barren, with mountains, canyons, volcanoes and plains. The largest volcano in the solar system, Olympus Mons, is on Mars. Valles Marineris, a large canyon system that covers one-fifth of the Martian surface, is also on Mars.
Mars was first visited by spacecraft in 1965 by flybys from NASA’s Mariner 4 mission. The Viking missions launched in 1976 were the first to land successfully on Mars and return images to Earth.
Mars has long been known as the Red Planet because of its reddish appearance. The color is due to the presence of iron oxide, or rust, on the planet’s surface. Although Mars is often described as a barren, lifeless world, it actually has a thin atmosphere that supports a limited amount of weather and seasonal changes.
Martian winters and summers are each about twice as long as our own. This is because the planet’s elliptical orbit (slightly oval-shaped) around the sun causes its seasons to last longer than Earth’s. Winter on Mars lasts about nine months and summer lasts about three months. Spring and autumn each last about six weeks.
The Martian climate also varies depending on which hemisphere (north or south) you’re in. The southern hemisphere generally experiences colder temperatures than the northern hemisphere. This is because the southern hemisphere has less land area than the northern hemisphere (about 20% less). Land heats up and cools down more quickly than water, so the southern hemisphere doesn’t heat up as much during the day or cool down as much at night.
Mars is the fourth planet from the sun and is often referred to as the Red Planet. The reason for Mars’ red hue is because of the high iron oxide content in the Martian soil.
Mars is named after the Roman God of War. Mars was known as the “Red Planet” by the ancient Greeks and Romans—probably because it looks blood red when it rises in Earth’s night sky.
Mars is a barren, dusty world with a very thin atmosphere. It has been home to robotic landers and rovers sent from Earth to explore the planet since the 1970s.
The planet Mars has two small natural satellites (moon), Phobos and Deimos. They are thought to be captured asteroids. Mars also has the largest volcano in our solar system, Olympus Mons, and the deepest canyon Valles Marineris.
Why is Mars red?
The red planet, also known as Mars, gets its red appearance from the high concentration of iron oxide found on its surface. This iron oxide is also what gives Mars its nickname of the “Red Planet.” The red planet has long been a fascination for humans and has been the subject of many science fiction stories.
The red planet’s atmosphere
Mars is red because of iron oxide, or rust, on its surface. When the planet was young, it had a much thicker atmosphere than it does now. Over time, the atmosphere became thinner and lost most of its water vapor and carbon dioxide. The loss of these gases allowed the planet to cool and the iron oxide that was in the rocks to oxidize, or rust.
The red planet’s surface
Mars is red because of rusty iron in the ground. Like Earth, Mars has iron oxide (rust) in its soil. But Mars doesn’t have enough oxygen to form the rust that we see on Earth. Instead, the rust just appears as red powder.
The iron oxide on Mars is more than just rust. It’s actually a very fine powder called “iron(III) oxide” or “ferric oxide.” This powder is what gives Mars its distinctive red color.
Mars is sometimes called the “Red Planet” because of its reddish appearance. But not all parts of Mars are red. In fact, the planet has a wide variety of colors, ranging from pale pink to deep crimson. The different colors are due to different amounts and types of iron oxide in the martian soil.
How can I see Mars this fall?
The best time to view Mars is actually during the fall season. This is because Mars is closest to the sun during this time. You should be able to see it rise in the east just after sunset.
Find a dark location
To get the best possible view of Mars, it’s important to find a dark location away from any city lights. The further away you are from light pollution, the better. Once you’re in a dark location, look up towards the southeastern sky. Mars will be visible as a bright red star.
Use a telescope
If you have a small telescope, you might be able to see some of Mars’ biggest features, Syrtis Major and Olympus Mons.
As autumn sets in and the nights get longer, stargazers will have the opportunity to see Mars make its closest approach to Earth in over a decade. The Red Planet will be visible for much of September and October, and if you have a clear view of the southeastern sky, you should be able to spot it with the naked eye.
This year’s close approach is especially noteworthy because it comes just two weeks after Mars makes its closest pass by Earth in 11 years. So if you miss it this time around, you’ll have to wait until 2035 for another chance to see the Red Planet so close.