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Red Planet and Ringed Planet March 19th & 20th

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#1 Special Ed  Happy Birthday!

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 11:08 AM

Hi Folks,

Clear weather over a two day period allowed me to make this pair of observations, although the seeing was only average at best.

Mars is getting tiny again but I managed to eke out a little detail. A very dark wedge-shaped albedo feature extended south from the polar cap and morning clouds/haze appeared to cover most of the following half of the disk. Other notes are with the sketch.

I used 2B, HB, and color pencils. The light desert regions appeared more yellowish than in past observations. I couldn't detect much detail in the deserts or the dusky albedo features in the south. Comments welcome.

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#2 JayinUT

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 11:11 AM

Michael,

This is an excellent sketch of Mars and your attention to detail is to be commended! Great job.

#3 Special Ed  Happy Birthday!

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 11:29 AM

It was interesting to see the Ringworld again. With the rings almost edge on (~3.5°), the oblate shape of the disk seemed more apparent. The northern hemisphere appeared darker than the southern hemisphere.

This was a hard observation to make--the features were very low contrast and the rings were hard to see crossing in front of the globe. It was hard to render what I saw, especially since the seeing got very mushy if I went above 250x. This is the best I could make out. There was a dusky line where the rings passed in front, but I couldn't tell for sure if it was in the plane or just south or both. The contrast improved slightly with the W11 filter

Titan and Rhea were preceding Saturn with Dione following just beyond the rings. Over the hour I observed Saturn, Dione approached the ring closely and disappeared in the glare. The rings were very bright.

I used HB and 2B pencils on Sol Robbins's template. The rings may be tilted a little more than in the template, but it's close to what I saw.

Best to all,

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#4 Special Ed  Happy Birthday!

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 11:34 AM

Thank you, Jay. :)

#5 dweller25

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 03:36 PM

Nice drawings, keep them coming ....

#6 payner

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 05:45 PM

Very good detail in your sketches. I observed Mars Friday about the same time as you; while I didn't make a sketch I recall similar details. Thanks for the posting them.
Randy

#7 frank5817

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 09:41 PM

Michael,

Excellent sketches of these evening planets. The colorful Mars sketch shows some nice features I was also able to pick out on the night before you made this sketch. Average to poor seeing really steals the view as Mars shrinks. Never the less this is a wonder capture you have made here. A tribute to your extensive experience.

The Saturn/Dione sketch leaves nothing more to be desired.
Great work Michael. :bow: :cool: :rainbow:

Frank :)

#8 Special Ed  Happy Birthday!

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 10:22 PM

Dweller, thank you very much.

Randy, thanks--it's always nice to get some confirmation from another observer. I never detected Mare Acidalium/Niliacus Lacus which should have been visible under better conditions, but this image from Brian Combs at the same CM the next night shows the dark wedge south of the NPC which was so easy to see the night I made the sketch.

Frank, thank you--you're too kind. I'm very rusty due to the appalling winter weather, but hopefully spring will bring better conditions. :)

#9 CarlosEH

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Posted 22 March 2010 - 12:20 AM

Michael,

Excellent observations of Mars and Saturn. You are detecting a good amount of detail at 10 arc-seconds. Your Saturn observation shows faint belt structure. The satellites in the field must have added to the scene. Thank you for sharing them with us all.

Carlos

#10 mathteacher

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Posted 22 March 2010 - 12:45 AM

Nice work on both counts. I've been lazy with Saturn, I think it's time to get out more.

#11 Special Ed  Happy Birthday!

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Posted 22 March 2010 - 02:43 PM

Thanks, Carlos and Mathteacher. Mars is getting pretty small, but I was overcast so much of this apparition that a glimpse is still satisfying. If only we had more of that Florida seeing here in the Appalachians...

One of the best things about current Saturn observing is the opportunity to detect the moons more easily, now that the rings aren't producing so much glare. :cool:

#12 Tommy5

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Posted 22 March 2010 - 10:03 PM

Excellant sketches of Mars and Saturn, glad to see that you finally got some relief fron the horrible winter weather, thanks for sharing.

#13 ladip63

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 02:51 PM

Excellent Michael :D :bow:
Wish I would have attempted Mars, when I had the chance.

Lynn

#14 Special Ed  Happy Birthday!

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 09:35 PM

T5, thanks. I've literally been "under the weather" here.

Lynn, thank you and don't worry--Mars will be back in a couple of years. Keep those pencils sharp. :)

#15 Special Ed  Happy Birthday!

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 01:10 PM

Hello all,

I finally got a clear night with good seeing and made this new pair of observations. This was my first view of Syrtis Major this apparition. Hellas was prominent but dull looking--maybe the southern hood is forming? A very bright cloud was over Libya. Graphite and color pencils.

I checked my collimation at 500x and it was a tad off--adjusting it and good seeing made for an enjoyable night. :)

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#16 Special Ed  Happy Birthday!

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 01:18 PM

Saturn was a beauty, as always. The rings did not seem as bright as a week ago. I also got a little better view of the Northern and Southern Equatorial Belts this time. The ring was dark as it passed in front of the disk, but I couldn't see much detail. I could see 3 moons following Saturn; Tethys, Rhea, and Titan. The sketch was done with a 2B pencil on Sol Robbins's template.

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#17 Tommy5

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 07:56 PM

Very nice mars and Saturn sketches. The last time i observed the Hellas basin was a bit dull as it can be as bright as a polar cap on some occasions, Saturn's rings can brighten around oppositon then get duller, something about the ice debris and the angle between the earth moon and sun, i think it is more noticable when the rings ae more open, great sketches again.

#18 frank5817

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 10:10 PM

Michael,

These are both superb sketches. :bow: :bow: :cool: :rainbow: That Mars sketch looks very detailed and the disk of Saturn is showing to you better detail than I have seen so far.
Very nice post.


Frank :)

#19 Special Ed  Happy Birthday!

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Posted 28 March 2010 - 12:12 PM

Thanks, T5. You described the opposition effect on Saturn's rings (aka Seelinger Effect). At and near opposition, all the ice chunks have their shadows directly behind them, causing the whole structure to appear brighter. Since a week has past since opposition, apparently that's enough time for the rings to dim somewhat. They are still pretty bright, though. I discovered that a fourth moon, Enceladeus, was following Saturn very close to the ring. I never detected it, probably because of the glare.

Hellas looked so dull I wondered if the southern hood is starting to form (it's late fall there on Mars). I've seen the hood have that gray color in the past but I don't know if it even extends that far north. Maybe Carlos or Jeff Beish can tell us more.

Frank, thank you. The belts and other structure are still low contrast but were visible in integrated light. I used the filters to confirm what I was seeing. The good seeing probably helped, too. I tried 338x (my 6mm Burgess/TMB Planetary ep that I never get to use), but the contrast was better at 250x (my 8mm Burgess/TMB that is a real workhorse) even with the seeing. That's a gas giant for you. :)

BTW, Saturn was 10 arcsecs bigger than Mars (19.4" vs. 9.4")--what a difference that makes!






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