One of the nicknames given to Mars by the ancient Egyptians was sekded-ef em khetkhet, which means “who travels backwards,” a clear reference to its apparent retrograde motion. It was mysterious to the early observers, but with our current understanding we know that this retrograde motion is entirely an illusion caused by the Earth passing the slower moving Mars, which has a larger orbit. Image credit: Cenk E. Tezel & Tunc Tezel Animation credit: Eugene Alvin Villar
Huh. People noticed this kind of thing so long ago. We have come along way in modern society, but it’s always worth remembering that we aren’t the first curious scientists to walk the Earth. I’m kind of jealous, actually. Back in them “olden days” the sky was the only nightly entertainment to tune into, and unlike today’s programming, there is always something interesting to see up there.