Top 5 Facts: Discovery of Mars

1,500 BC

Egyptians refer to Mars as ‘Horus of the Hawk’, a god with the head of a hawk. They note its retrograde motion, when it moves backwards in its orbit relative to Earth

350 BC

Aristotle first proposes that Mars orbits at a further distance than the moon when he notes that the moon passes in front of Mars in his observations.


Galileo Galilei uses a telescope to become the first person to directly observe Mars, but is later vilified by the Vatican for asserting that the planets orbit the Sun and not earth.


Astronomer Giovanni Cassini calculates the length of a Martian day, notes the polar ice caps and even calculates its distance from Earth in his telescopic observations.


Astronomers Wilhelm Beer and Johann Heinrich Mädler study Mars through a 3.75-inch telescope and produce the first sketched Map of its surface.