How to See Mars on a Telescope

3 min read

Finding Mars with a Small Telescope

How to See Mars – Ever wanted to find out how to see mars in the sky with just using a telescope? Comparing the distance between our planet and the fourth planet in space, they are about 35,000,000 miles (or 56 million km) apart from each other.

However, if they are opposite sides of their orbit, then the miles are more, being 250,000,000 miles away.

If you want to find Mars in the sky, you need to figure out what it looks like in the sky. Mars varies on what it looks like: sometimes it could just look like a tiny dot and sometimes it could look like a giant disc. It also depends on when to see Mars.

In the year 2019, you can’t see Mars. Why can’t you see Mars during this year? It’s because of the distance between Earth and Mars: while it can be visible, it doesn’t give the best view.

On the other hand, in 2020, it is different. Mars and Earth have a shorter distance that by August, you can see the planet by -1.1 and it would be 14 inches wide, making it visible for you to see on your telescope.

If you don’t have a chance to see Mars in the sky in August or want to see it again, the best date to see it is October 6th, 2020.

If you are planning on seeing Mars on that date, it will shine at magnitude -2.2. With all of this information out of the way, let us get into how you can see Mars on your telescope!

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How to See Mars on a Telescope :

see mars planet

Now that we got the information about Mars, you want to know how to see Mars using your telescope. There are about three major questions that you need to consider before finding Mars:

⇒ • Is Mars in the Sky Tonight? : You want to first make sure Mars is visible in the night sky. If you need help with this step, you can check out the Sky Safari, a map that shows you the layout of the path Mars will be traveling between constellations.

Mars will first travel to Gemini during the early Summer, then it will go through other constellations like Cancer, Leo, Virgo, and it will end at Libra at the end of the year.

However, the best time to see Mars is October since Mars will be close to the sun. Mars, during October, will be visible in the morning sky and rising an hour before the sun comes out. With that in mind, it is best to see Mars during October.

Another great tool if you want to find when and where Mars is, you should use Stellarium, a star charting software system.

⇒ • Finding Mars Without a Telescope : Don’t have a telescope at your house? No problem! You can still see Mars even without one, just follow these steps.

Finding Mars Without a Telescope

In November, you would need to look East towards Virgo an hour before sunrise. Once you find Virgo, you will need to wait until December and look 20 degrees above the Southeast horizon before sunrise. You will then see Libra and towards Libra will be Mars.

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⇒ • Finding Mars with a Small Telescope : Happen to have a small telescope? You can still see Mars even with a smaller perspective, you just need to follow these steps:

Finding Mars with a Small Telescope

First, you want to know how to see the polar ice caps on Mars with your small telescope. If you look at pictures of Mars, Mars develops these ice caps on the North and South parts. You can see the southern cap when Mars is in opposition (since this one will be closest to you).

Once you find these ice caps and have the patience, you can have a good angle of seeing Mars in the sky. Next, you want to find Martian Surface Features. Mars surface has a valley that is deeper and longer than the Grand Canyon named the Valles Marineris.

You won’t be able to see the Valles Marineris with the telescope. You can see, however, the different seas on Mars which will look like dark areas on your telescope.

If you need help with finding these areas, then you want to get a Martian map, a map that will point out large areas on Mars.

The next and last target you want to be looking for when you want to know how to see Mars on a small telescope is the dust storms.

Dust storms are hard to see since they are unpredictable. Describing a dust storm, they are normally large and can be picked up by a telescope if the planet is nearby.

An entire planet will be covered in sand in about 5 years.

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While this is hard to see since they are unpredictable, there is a way to find out when they are happening. If you go to the Cloudy Nights solar system observing forum, you can discover conversations about dust storms and when they are going to happen.

Conclusion

If you take this information and advice to heart on how to see Mars, then you are guaranteed to find the fourth planet of the solar system in the sky.

Every Astronomer or home astronomer would want to see the red planet and explore the different wonders the planet has on its surface.

Mars only reveals itself for about three or four months every two years, so you want to observe Mars and practice with your telescope observation skills with your telescope and using the maps/tools to help you to improve those skills. Here are some other facts about Mars that you might have not known:

  • Mars Has the Largest Volcano: This volcano, called Olympus Mons, is the tallest volcano being 21km high and 600km in diameter!
  • One day Mars will have rings: The biggest moon of Mars, called Phobos, will be destroyed by graviton forces which will then be used to create a ring around Mars.

I hope you find this article helpful on finding Mars in the sky!

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