A New View of Mars!
|In 1610 the Italian astronomer
Galilei used a primitive telescope and described Mars as a "spherical
body illuminated by the Sun." He noted that it went through phases like
the Moon. It is believed that Galileo was the first person to use the newly
invented spyglass (used by sailors) to look at the heavens. He was a believer
in the astronomer Copernicus’ theory that the planets moved around the
Sun - although he was made to recant his beliefs by the Catholic Church
(who had their own ideas about the nature of the universe at that time).
Look at the images here taken from small telescopes of the planet Mars.
To find out where Mars is in the night sky on any day, you can use the planet finder.
Here are some sketches of Mars as seen through a telescope. Before astronomers had cameras to attach to their telescopes, they made sketches like these. If you get a chance to look at Mars through a telescope, make a drawing of your own in your journal.
SKETCHES (Click image for larger view.)
Questions to think about:
In 1609, Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) observed Mars with his primitive telescope. Later, in 1610, he wrote to a friend about observing phases on Mars indicating "a spherical body illuminated by the Sun."
In 1659, the first sketch of Mars was drawn by the Dutch astronomer, Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695). Huygens used a telescope of his own design, which had a magnification of 50 times (much stronger that previous telescopes). He recorded the first feature on Mars, a large dark spot (most likely Syrtis Major) that was named the "Hourglass Sea." Observing the spot over time, he approximated a 24-hour Martian day.
HUYGENS DRAWING & SYRTIS MAJOR PHOTO
In 1666, Gian Domenico Cassini (1625-1712) made sketches of Mars and determined a day length of 24 hours 40 minutes. (Cassini made about 20 sketches of Mars and noticed that the markings came back to the same positions about 40 minutes later the next day) Cassini also saw the polar caps.
In 1813, Honeré Flaugergues, a French amateur astronomer, noticed rapid melting of the ice caps on Mars. He also noted the presence of "yellow clouds" on Mars (later identified as dust clouds).
For more detailed chronologies of the history of Mars you can click on any of the links below.