What does Jupiter look like from Mars?

Basically as the title - what does Jupiter look like in the Martian sky, especially at its closest point? Would it be visible with the naked eye (assuming you can, you know, breath)? I’ve JFGI but it turns out one image I’ve found is a big load of shite which is a shame.

Jupiter is easily visible from Earth, so of course it would be visible from Mars.

Oh yeah, oops, I meant is it visible in any more…detail with the naked eye?

Earth orbits at 1 AU, Mars at around 1.5 AU and Jupiter at 5 AU.

So the distance between Earth and Jupiter varies between 4 to 6 AU, and the distance between Mars and Jupiter between 3.5 and 6.5 AU.

Jupiter would look pretty much the same from Mars, as it does from Earth.

You’d have a lot less of atmosphere bothering you on Mars though.

It would be somewhat brighter (at closest approach), and would also be clearer in a telescope because of the minimal atmosphere if Mars. The biggest difference would probably be in the increased visibility of the Galilaen moons, although they are still going to be barely more than dots in a portable telescope.


The Galilean moons might be an interesting question. They are just on the edge of visibility from the Earth. There is a lovely story from some decades ago of an amateur astronomer showing his little daughter a view of Jupiter with his telescope. She exclaimed - “But Daddy, they are the wrong way up!” After some confusion, it became apparent that she could actually see the moons with no optical assistance. It isn’t that the moons are too dim - but that the angular separation from Jupiter is too little to avoid Jupiter’s brightness making it too hard to separate. Very acute sight with very good atmospheric seeing could reasonably account for the little girl’s capability. With no meaningful atmosphere on Mars the seeing will be very stable and clear. This might be enough to make seeing the moons a reasonable thing.

Jupiter’s disk however will remain unresolved. It will still be a point.

And being closer (at closest approach, at least) would also increase the angular separation.

Bonus question: What would Earth look like from Mars?

Presumably much the same as Mars looks like from Earth no? But with a faint blue tinge instead of red.

Like so.

The angular diameter of Mars as seen from Earth varies quite a bit depending on the position of the planets in their orbits, from about 3.5 arc seconds to over 25. So Earth’s angular diameter as seen from Mars should vary in the same way, except Earth would be about twice the diameter, varying between 7 and 50 arc seconds.

BTW, if you want to work out “what would X look like from Y” not just for the solar system but a bunch of real star systems take a look a Universe Sandbox:


Not 100 percent accurate but it aims to use real world physics as much as they can with the limitations of desktop computers. For things like views of planets from any moon / planet in the solar system it should be pretty close.

Earth’s albedo (fraction of light reflected back to space) is about twice Mars’, so it’s going to be brighter for that was well. I’d say that Earth as seen from Mars will be more like Venus from Earth, than Mars from Earth. Especially so since it’ll go through phases like Venus does.

Jupiter is not quite a point to the naked eye. Stars are point sources and because of that, they twinkle due to atmospheric irregularities. Planets don’t twinkle as much as stars do, because they do show just a bit of disk. This effect should be more pronounced when seeing Jupiter at Mars, but you still won’t be able to see any detail on Jupiter.

Not what you are asking for, but a new photo of Earth and the moon from Mars.

Earth from Mars will be brighter than Mars from Earth, for three reasons: First, Earth is closer to the Sun, and so gets more sunlight to reflect. Second, Earth has a much higher albedo, mostly due to clouds. Third, Earth is bigger. The net effect wouldn’t be quite as bright as Venus is from Earth, but it’d still be plenty impressive. Especially since Earth would always be accompanied by another decently-bright point of light, Luna.

[wipes tear off cheek] … sounds purdy …

Is this taking into account the fact that, being further than the sun from us, we always see a “full Mars”, but Earth, being closer to the sun than Mars, is only a “full Earth” when it is on the opposite side of the sun from Mars, and only in partial phase (or entirely dark) when closer to Mars?

Ah, right, forgot about phases. While which effect would dominate would depend on the phase, I think the net effect would still be that Earth is usually brighter. But I haven’t run the numbers.

Venus is currently an evening star … look to the west as soon as it’s fairly dark after sunset … Venus will be the brightest star far and away … roughly half illuminated … someone with even a small telescope can verify this … I haven’t …