For the purpose of this theoretical question, please assume the following criteria:

  1. The person will remain on the planet for at least a few years allowing for Mars to complete an orbit.

  2. The person has just an average pair of binoculars as a viewing aid. I am not familiar with the specification ranges of these as in what magnification power they could offer but they should not be something unavailable " off the shelf " as such as in something that would not be generally available to the public.

  3. Ignore any concerns about how the person would breathe or eat as "human habitation requirements" are not part of the question.

The question itself is hopefully quite simple though:

Armed with said binoculars as a viewing aid if required, what planetary bodies could they likely see over the course of a Martian year or two please ?

I should add: There is no need for a huge list of moons just other planets and perhaps any other items in the sky of immediate interest. It is fine to not include stars in this.

It must be assumed they will remain long enough to have time to view again if a dust storm precludes a decent view for instance.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Apologies for the way the question and information is structured but I do not have any scientific background knowledge but a curious mind ! Hopefully the theoretical question makes sense. $\endgroup$
    – AndyF
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 18:58
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Do you ask for visible planets of our solar system only? Not about stars? $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 19:00
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yes sorry please exclude stars. Will edit question to discount these and comets. $\endgroup$
    – AndyF
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 19:02
  • $\begingroup$ I realised I probably should of put in the question criteria that the person could stand anywhere they wished on the surface and move to any other point too but that seems not too relevant as they would be there long enough to make observations. $\endgroup$
    – AndyF
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 20:04
  • $\begingroup$ I should add : I did actually give a bit of thought to this being a telescope (a small portable model with no electronics purely optical and mechanical device) instead of binoculars but a cursory look at the huge ranges of these "amateur or beginners telescopes" meant it would of then been me trying to work out unknown and unfamiliar specifications (unfamiliar to me!) possibility resulting in confusion in the question, hence I picked binoculars to both narrow the scope and likely observable bodies. $\endgroup$
    – AndyF
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 20:13

1 Answer 1


All classic solar system planets discovered long ago without using telescopes should be visible during Marsian nights too with clear sky. After a dust storm it will take some time to get a clear atmosphere again.

So we get to see Mercury, Venus, Earth, Jupiter and Saturn. But Mercury looks much smaller than Venus observed from Earth and the distance Mercury to Mars is bigger than Mercury to Earth. I will add a calculation later if a binocular with magnification 8 will do.

Uranus is visible to the naked eye from Earth under very good conditions only, so it should be visible from Mars using binoculars.

Neptune is smaller than Uranus when observed from Earth, 2 instead of 3.5 arcseconds. It is not visible to the naked eye from Earth, but from Mars using binoculars it should be visible at minimum distance between Mars and Neptune. But you should know where to look, Neptune was discovered with a telescope after it's position was calculated.

The comets with a large tail while being close to the Sun are visualy much bigger than the large planets when observed from Earth. I remember Hale-Bopp visible so easy to the naked eye. So those comets are visible from Mars too.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Not only the Earth, but the Moon is a naked-eye object from the Martian surface. en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astronomy_on_Mars?wprov=sfla1 $\endgroup$
    – notovny
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 20:21
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think you can expand a bit on Mercury's visibility; it will appear closer to the Sun but with such a thinner atmosphere dusk will be much faster, so I've just asked How much more quickly does night come on Mars compared to Earth? Will it be easier to see Mercury there?. A different but related question in Astronomy SE: How will planets behave in the night sky as seen by Mars colonists? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 1:06
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I just want to add what was or appeared to be a simple question (or so I thought) has provided me with much more detailed answers than I had expected :) Much for me to look into now! Great stuff. $\endgroup$
    – AndyF
    Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 8:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think that you need to take into account the opacity of the Martian atmosphere, which really means how much dust there is in it I think (even outside dust storms). I had a brief look but didn't find any definite answers, except that it has larger optical depth than people expected it to have. $\endgroup$
    – user21103
    Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 10:11
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @notovny : Shows you just how cool our Moon is :) $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 24, 2020 at 10:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.