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The year in Mars

29 Jan 2019, 14:00 UTC
The year in Mars Damian Peach

I'm always a bit torn when someone asks me to point my telescope at Mars.

I want to show them the planet. It's Mars, the Red Planet, famed in fiction and fact, shining down from the sky like a bloody eye, a baleful gaze that removes all doubt why the ancients regarded it as the god of war. Who wouldn't want to see it through a telescope?

But then there's Mars the actual planet: Half the size of Earth, and at best well over 50 million kilometers away. On average it's more like 150 million, and at worst 400 million. That's a long way for a small planet, and the views of it can be… disappointing. A red blob, fuzzed out by our atmosphere's motion, with maybe a dark splotch on it barely visible if you squint.

But then, I'm not Damian Peach.

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