O Hail the Red Planet

According to local stargazer, Paul ‘Starman’ Curnow (lecturer at the Adelaide Planetarium), the red planet Mars will be putting on a bit of a show over coming weeks. At least for those of you that have access to a telescope. The best time to view Mars will be from around 9:30pm (ACST) onwards (towards the east) in order to give it time to rise above the hills, trees, or any buildings that may obscure your view to the horizon.

On Tuesday, 6 October 2020, Mars will be at its closest point to the earth at 14.10 GMT. It will come within about 62-million kilometres of the earth and therefore it will be a great opportunity to have a closer view of the planet. This distance may sound a lot, but this is quite close in planetary terms. The Earth and Mars only make close approaches about every two years, which is why a flotilla of spacecraft are being sent off during these times.

If you do not have a telescope, you can still venture outside and do a bit of star gazing as Mars will be able to be seen from with the naked eye, especially when combined with the dark skies of Australia.

The ancient Egyptians referred to Mars as Her Descher, which basically means ‘very red’. Mars is the same planet named by the Romans after their god of war, as well as an agricultural guardian, a combination characteristic of early Rome. He was the son of Jupiter and he was the most prominent of the military gods in the religion of the Roman army.

Based on an ancient prayer to Mars, the above is one that I have written for use when calling upon Mars to lead you his strength and courage.