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The Universe Seen From Mars And Jupiter

Alien skies. The Universe seen from Mars and Jupiter
If it’s true that, as Shakespeare said, “There are more things in heaven than we can imagine”, then it might be justified to ask whether in the skies of the other planets of the Solar System celestial phenomena could occur quite different from those we are accustomed to observe on our planet.
n this journey we will try to put together science and imagination, visiting the completely alien skies of Mars, Jupiter and their moons.
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We are on Mars. The atmosphere of Red Planet has a composition similar to that of Venus: it is composed mostly of carbon dioxide, a small percentage of nitrogen, argon and traces of oxygen and water. However, the density is minimal and the pressure at the surface is less than one-hundredth of the Earth’s pressure. There is water vapor in the air, but too little and the density is too low for it to rain. However, you can see mist and clouds in the sky of Mars. The main characteristic of its atmosphere, which significantly influences the landscape and the appearance of the sky, is the large amount of dust, mostly iron oxides, suspended in the air.
A visitor to Mars could witness, especially when the planet is closer to the Sun and the temperature is higher, the most impressive dust storms of the solar system: sometimes only local phenomena, but in other cases so gigantic as to affect the entire planet, as happened in 2001.
And it is just to the ferrous dust in suspension that we owe the particular brown-yellowish color of the Martian skies. And to the same powders we owe the fact that the daylight spreads on Mars long before the rising of the Sun, and that it still illuminates the sky long after the Sun has set. The numerous probes that we have sent to Mars in recent decades have given us many suggestive images. We have been able to observe sunsets in which the Sun is bathed in a blue light instead of red as on Earth. And violet skies, due to the presence of ice crystals in the air.
However, we must remember that these images are only an approximation of reality. All the probes that capture the sky and the surface of Mars, in fact, do so through filters that produce images in shades of gray that are then processed into something that resembles as much as possible what human eyes could see, if they were on Mars.
Since Mars is about 1.5 astronomical units away from the Sun, the amount of light that arrives on the surface is less than half of the amount that arrives on our planet; and in low light conditions our eyes shift their sensitivity to blue because we move from using “conical” color-sensitive cells to “stick-like” cells, which are practically colorblind. So, the first astronaut who landed on Mars would probably describe his sky much bluer than you might expect.
The light actually perceived on the ground always depends on local weather conditions. But there is no doubt that the general effect, for a human visitor, would be that of a world with little light, with equally little contrast.
Certainly, the disk of the Sun would appear to us smaller than from the Earth. Its angular diameter, seen from Mars, is 19 arcminutes at aphelion and 23 at perihelion, respectively 60% and 70% of the diameter observed from Earth.
Despite the great similarity between Mars and Earth in the initial observational conditions (the duration of the day and night virtually identical, as well as the respective inclinations of the polar axis), a hypothetical Martian astronomer could have fun observing shows forbidden to us Earthlings. He could see for example with a good telescope the details of the hidden face of the Moon. Or, even better, he could observe the transits of Mercury, Venus and Earth on the solar disk…
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Credits: Mark A. Garlick /
Credits: Ron Miller
Credits: Nasa/Shutterstock/Storyblocks/Elon Musk/SpaceX/ESA
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Credits: ESO

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