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What telescope refractor aperture size would I need to observe Mars's polar caps? I have a Levenuhk Strike NG 80mm, and I can see red disk of planet but cannot see any details on the surface.

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

According to this website, you may actually have a big enough refractor to see them, but only on a "good viewing" night, and when Mars is close (opposition):

4-6" reflectors or 3" refractors: polar caps, large surface features


This website also says that 80mm to 90mm will let you see the Martian polar caps:

Martian polar caps and major dark surface features during oppositions

I hope that helps. Your 80mm should work, although it seems to be at the lower end of requirements. You may just need better atmospheric conditions. Clearsky is a good website to check out.

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Thanks for your answer Larian! I will try to observe Mars out of city or at early morning next time. Aslo I have noticed that mars-filters can be helpful. I hope to see polar caps at opposition time, approx. begining of March. – coms Jan 28 '12 at 20:25

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