Mars is a small rocky planet with much in common with the Earth has a 24-hour day, a subdivision of the seasons comparable to Earth's polar ice caps.
But there are also substantial differences: the temperature hardly rises above 0 ° C, while the atmosphere is very tenuous and devoid of oxygen, Mars is called the Red Planet because of its coloring of desert plains.
Mars is easy to identify with the naked eye during his opposition, when it appears as a bright star with a distinctive reddish hue, it shows a pair of binoculars, but have only a tenuous disk in a small telescope are the polar caps and dark surface features larger.
Comments must be a standard tool of at least 20 cm opening: when he is in favor of opposition on average, at a magnification of 100 times, the planet has angular size equal to those of the Moon.
Mars is in opposition roughly every two years and two months, but its highly elliptical orbit significantly alters the distance from our planet in the most favorable oppositions, every 15 or 17 years, we see much larger and brighter.
The atmosphere of Mars is composed mostly of carbon dioxide and is so thin that the pressure on the surface is less than 1% of the Earth, the temperature is usually significantly less than 0 ° C.
In winter the atmosphere above the poles ice, deposited in a solid layer of permanent ice caps on carbon dioxide formed by water ice.
The morning mists and clouds at high altitude are visible from Earth during the Martian year local dust storms occur, however, it often happens that these storms can affect the entire globe wrapping it completely in the dust.
Mars has two small moons Phobos and Deimos, the average diameter of 22 and 12 km respectively, both have irregular shape and are thought to be asteroids captured by the planet's magnetic field.
Phobos orbits Mars faster than the planet's rotation around its axis for this surface we see Phobos rise in the west and set in the east.
Phobos and Deimos are very weak and therefore can only be seen by telescopes professional knowledge, but it is remarkable what has been sent to us from various space probes: craters, extraordinary lighting, really cool, unexpected.
Mars differs significantly in its two hemispheres: the southern hemisphere consists mainly of plateaus, heavily cratered due to meteorite impacts, the northern hemisphere is more homogeneous and the average altitude is lower.
There are huge volcanoes and the most impressive of these is Mount Olympus, a volcano off the base 600 km and 27 km high, often covered by white clouds that are seen with a telescope even from our planet, another interesting structure is represented a canyon system, Valles Marineris along more than 4000 kilometers, one fifth of the circumference of the planet and that appears to the telescope as a dark stripe.
The surface of Mars looks like a desert strewn with rocks from the reddish color for the content of iron oxide and ice for many kilometers deep, there are signs that suggest that water may have flowed on the surface of the planet in the past, when the climate was warmer.
Mars, the ancient culture, represented death and destruction, but was also recognized as a god of agriculture, according to archaeological research, linked to the signs of Scorpio and Aries.