The Universe in the Classroom

A Flag for Mars

The Mars Flag has a different design on the reverse side.

Mars flag obverse
Mars flag reverse
obverse side of flag
reverse side of flag

The Mars Flag is meant to be viewed from the back as well as the front.

The design on the reverse side is a continuation of the design on the obverse. The orbit lines on the obverse cross the Sun on the lower half of the flag and appear to go behind the Sun on the upper half of the flag. The reverse side has the orbits lines continuing around the Sun on the upper half of the flag.

This gives you the view as you pass the flag, as if you are traveling through space and passing through the Solar System. As you approach the Sun, you see the orbit lines of the planets pass behind the Sun and as you pass the Sun and look back, you see the continuation of the orbit lines on the reverse side.

This is one of the most unique aspects of the Mars Flag as compared to other flags. The Mars Flag reverse side is a continuation of the obverse side and not just a different design on the back and not a mirror image of the obverse.

Main Flag Background Color

The main background color of the state flag is blue. There are no state or national flags with black as the main background color.

The Mars Flag main background is black to represent the blackness of space.

Astronomical Design Elements

The Mars Flag is an astronomy lesson. The flag design elements represent the orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, and Jupiter, their relative distance from the Sun.

The 1st quarter of the flag contains the Sun represented by a yellow half circle.

The 2nd quarter of the flag contains orbit lines for Mercury, Venus, and Earth, indicating the relative distance of the planets from the Sun.

The 3rd quarter of the flag contains the planet Mars, represented by a red circle, with the planet's relative distance from the Sun.

The 4th quarter of the flag contains a line representing the orbit of Jupiter, calculated at the planet's relative distance from the Sun.

General Comments on Flags

The Northern American Vexillological Association (dedicated to the study of flag history and symbolism) has 5 basic principles of flag design which are summarized as follows:

1. Keep It Simple

The flag should be so simple that a child can draw it from memory. Flags flap. Flags drape. Flags must be seen from a distance. Under these circumstances, only simple designs make effective flags. Furthermore, complicated flags cost more to make, which often can limit how widely they are used.

Ideally the design will be reversible or at least recognizable from either side. Don't put a different design on the back.

The Mars Flag has simple components, various elements of symmetry, yet complicated astronomical units and a different design on the back.

2. Use Meaningful Symbolism

The flag's images, colors, or patterns should relate to what it symbolizes. Symbolism can be in the form of a main graphic element, in the colors used, or sometimes even in the shapes or layout of the parts of the flag.

The Mars Flag contains many symbolic elements, including symbols of the Sun and Mars, and the orbits of the planets their relative distance from the Sun.

3. Use 2-3 Basic Colors

Limit the number of colors on the flag to three, which contrast well and come from the standard color set.

The Mars Flag employs three basic colors (black, yellow, and red) with gold highlights.

4. No Lettering or Seals

Words defeat the purpose. A flag is a graphic symbol. Lettering is nearly impossible to read from a distance and is not reversible.

The Mars Flag has no lettering or seals and no elements that would detract from the design when viewed from the reverse. The Mars Flag is meant to be viewed from the reverse to see the continuation of the orbits.

5. Be Distinctive or Be Related

Avoid duplicating other flags, but use similarities to show connections. Sometimes the good designs are already taken. However, a flag's symbols, colors, and shapes can recall other flags–a powerful way to show heritage, solidarity, or connectedness. This requires knowledge of other flags.

The Mars Flag is distinctive. It is the flag for a planet and stands out among flags from states or nations.

The Mars Flag meets many of the basic principles of flag design and differs on others.

The Mars Flag is meant to be different.

"A flag should be simple, readily made, and capable of being made up in bunting; it should be different from the flag of any other country, place, or people; it should be significant; it should be readily distinguishable at a distance; the colors should be well contrasted and durable; and lastly, and not the least important point, it should be effective and handsome."
National Flag Committee of the Confederate States of America, 1861

The Mars Flag stands this test.

Sources:

The World Encyclopedia of Flags by Alfred Znamierowski

The North American Vexillological Association.

http://flagspot.net/flags/mars.html

Flag Specifications

Mars flag obverse
Mars flag reverse
Obverse (front)
Reverse (back)

Grid for Mars flag
Scale: 2 feet x 4 feet flag: each small square is 1 inch x 1 inch

Flag Sections–Astronomical Components
1st quarter: the Sun    
2nd quarter: Mercury/Venus/Earth    
3rd quarter: Mars    
4th quarter: Jupiter    
       
Sun: 24 inch diameter
(1/2 of the Sun on the flag 12 inches)
   
Mars: 6 inch diameter    
Jupiter orbit line placement
top edge: 6 inches from fly edge    
fly edge: 2 1/3 inches down from the top    
 
Colors
Background: Black    
Sun: Yellow    
Mars: Red    
Orbit lines: Gold    
 
Planet Placement
 
miles from the sun
%
2" x 4" flag inches from the Sun
Mercury
36,000,000
.255
4.59"
Venus
67,000,000
.475
8.55"
Earth
93,000,000
.659
11.87"
Mars
141,000,000
100
18.00"

Jupiter

483,000,000
61.66"

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