“Sky at Night” on Mars from the BBC

by Richard Sherman

Late last year, I subscribed to the BBC’s Sky at Night magazine, which is available in the USA in both print and digital editions. There is a 2-for-1 sale ongoing now where you can get two years for the price of one. Personally, I prefer it to Sky & Telescope because it has more articles and arguably better images. In the February 2021 edition, they write about what we would see of the heavens if we lived on Mars.

“On Mars, thanks to the dusty atmosphere, you would see a sunset dyed purple and blue, with the faraway Sun reduced to a shrunken blue coin before it set…. Depending on the time of year, you might also see…Earth, a strikingly bright spark of silvery blue, which at its best would blaze brighter than magnitude -2.5. If Earth was showing a full or gibbous phase, through your telescope you would clearly see its familiar green continents and blue oceans on the dayside, and the lights of its cities glinting on the nightside. And just imagine what an incredible sight a crescent Earth would be through your highest-powered eyepiece…. However you set up you telescope a problem would quickly present itself: Mars has no ‘North Star’ like Polaris here on Earth, to align….”  

And then regarding the moon(s):

“Our Moon crawls relatively slowly across the heaven. In contrast, Mars’s two moons, Phobos and Deimos, move far more rapidly across the sky. To the naked eye Phobos would resemble a pebble one third as wide as Earth’s moon, while Deimos would appear more like a bright star. But both would shine brightly enough to cast your shadow on the rocks…”

The article, entitled “The Red Planet’s Sky at Night,” is available online for free—the magazine allows non-subscribers three (3) free articles per month. Here is the link to the full article: What does the night sky look like on Mars? – skyatnightmagazine

This entry was posted in March 2021, Sidereal Times and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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