There have been many movies that have been made that depict the planet Mars as a source of alien life. Some movies even depict Martians attacking planet Earth. There are many who ask who discovered Mars and how it was discovered. The truth is that for reasons quite obvious we may never know who exactly it was who discovered this planet.
God of War
Mars may be familiar to some as being called the God of war. Both the Greeks and the Romans called the planet as the God of War. The Greeks called the planet as Ares while the Romans called it Mars, but both symbolize the same deity. Since the planet Mars is really visible to the naked eye it was discovered even before any recorded history. Thus we really cannot tell who discovered Mars.
For thousands of years Mars has been visible to humans as a red dot floating in the night sky. There are certain times in the year when the planet came closer to ours. When such times come it would appear like a red burning coal in the sky at night. This of course would arouse such terror among ancient peoples and sky watchers.
The Egyptians even called it Har decher, which means The Red One. The Babylonians called it Nergal which simply means the Star of Death. Though they may have come up with names for this planet, we can’t credit any of these people as the ones who discovered Mars.
The Babylonians discovered the planet in 400 BC, however, the very first people or individual who discovered Mars would have observed it much earlier. They made thorough astronomical observations on the planet. They were even able to make sophisticated mathematical calculations about it. They were able to predict particular astronomical occurrences like eclipses for example. However, their objective for such work is dedicated for both religious and calendrical purposes.
Though it may seem that the Babylonians have made thorough observations about the planet we can’t credit them as the ones who discovered Mars. In 1609 Galileo was able to observe the planet for the first time using a telescope. We can say that he was the first one who ever made observations about the planet for purely astronomical purposes.
Christian Huygens, a Dutch astronomer, was able to determine in 1659 how long a day would last in Mars. In 1704 Giancomo Miraldi was able to spot polar caps on Mars’ poles. In 1840 German astronomers were able to create the first complete map of this planet.
Further discoveries came along as astronomers continued to observe the planet. Moons, canals, and meteorite were soon to be found in later years. Since the planet is visible to the naked eye we can’t really credit a single person as the one who discovered Mars. The planet has been observed even before recorded history.