Phobos and the Sun: Perseverance shows what an eclipse on Mars looks like

Amateur astronomer Jason Major published a video composed of images taken by the Perseverance rover. It shows a solar eclipse on Mars.

Unlike the Earth, Mars has two satellites. However, they are much smaller than the Moon. Phobos has a diameter of 22.5 km, while Deimos is only 12.4 km in diameter. For comparison, the diameter of our planet’s satellite is 3470 km.

At the same time, the orbits of the Martian satellites are much further away from Mars than the Moon’s orbit from the Earth. Phobos is particularly noteworthy. Its orbit height is 6,600 km, so it has a fairly large visible size in the Martian sky. To this should be added that the apparent size of the Sun on Mars is about 40% smaller than in the Earth’s sky.

The combination of these factors makes it possible to observe solar eclipses created by Phobos on Mars, as the video demonstrates. It consists of 57 images taken by the Mastcam-Z camera and lasts 38 seconds, which corresponds to the actual duration of the event.

It is worth emphasising that since the apparent size of Phobos is not enough to completely cover the Sun, total eclipses with the appearance of a luminous halo (corona) surrounding the Sun are impossible on Mars. As for Deimos, due to its much smaller size in the Martian sky, the eclipses it creates look like a dark point passing across the solar disc. Therefore, they are usually classified as transits.

Earlier, we published epic footage of an annular solar eclipse observed on Earth in 2023.