From H.G. Wells & David Bowie to Andy Weir & Elon Musk, humans have had an enduring fascination with our neighbouring red planet. Mars has captivated our imagination arguably more than any other planet in the Solar System, constantly surprising us with new revelations about its past – polar caps, magnetic fields, and evidence of liquid water.
The surface of Mars is tinted red by the abundance of iron oxide on the surface. This characteristic red hue distinguishes Mars from other bodies in the sky, and the colour is intensified by binoculars.
Another interesting thing to track is the speed of Mars’s movement relative to background stars. Mars moves rapidly across the sky, and the magnification of binoculars really puts the speed of its motion into perspective.
Depending on where Mars is in its orbit around the Sun, it appears at different times in the night sky. Check timeanddate.com/astronomy/night/ to see when it rises and sets, and the best times to view it.
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