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Ed D
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Anyone else observing Mars?
      #6166653 - 10/30/13 03:26 PM

I know Mars is still far away and appears small, and is up in the early pre-dawn hours to boot. Probably not many observers want to bother with it right now. However, I wake up early anyway and what better way to have my morning coffee than observing planets. The rainy season makes it difficult to observe in the evenings, but the morning conditions have been nothing short of stunning down here.

Anyway, I have been observing Mars since it was just visible over the roofs and trees in my line of sight. I thought it pretty neat to see it morph from a tiny star-like object to what is now an unmistakeable planetary disk. When it was star-like I observed diffraction rings, which seemed to slowly vanish as Mars approached 4.5" apparent diameter. I also thought it neat to observe the color and intensity as it subtly changes as the planet gets nearer.

Of course, I'm keeping notes and a few sketches of my observations. I'm looking forward to the mornings I start to observe definitive features on the planet.

So, is anyone else out there doing anything similar?

Ed D


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Astrojensen
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: Ed D]
      #6166704 - 10/30/13 03:50 PM

I occasionally hear about seeing diffraction rings around planets, but I've never seen them. Two years ago, I observed Mars long before opposition and I was able to see markings on the surface even at just 5" diameter, with my 6" f/8 achromat, stopped down to 125mm f/9.6, which took me completely by surprise.

Must give it another go, if I can get the opportunity.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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Asbytec
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: Astrojensen]
      #6167376 - 10/30/13 09:41 PM

Yea, Ed, Mars is still too low and too early for me. And it's still rainy season here, too, so I grab any clear night that presents itself and usually cannot stay out till dawn.

As for diffraction rings, I believe if the object is about the size of the Airy disc you can see them but they are on the verge of dissipating. I see them on Jovian moons when the seeing is good, more washed out on Ganymede which is about the size of a 6" Airy disc.


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buddyjesus
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: Asbytec]
      #6167466 - 10/30/13 10:48 PM

I find it to be at a very observable elevation at about 6am round these parts. I normally am up til 4am even when not doing astronomy, but I check about that time to see if it is clear out. I have only gotten a couple views so far this season though. It has been too cloudy.

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mak17
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: buddyjesus]
      #6167551 - 10/30/13 11:46 PM

I took a peak at Mars a few nights ago. It was very low but the polar cap was clearly seen.

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Nick Anderson
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: mak17]
      #6167617 - 10/31/13 12:46 AM

I caught Mars on the 26th in my 8-inch Dob. At 192x unfiltered, the north polar cap could seen with concentration, along with possibly an adjoining sea on the western limb (could have been Utopia Planitia).

-Nick Anderson


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Ed D
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: Nick Anderson]
      #6167795 - 10/31/13 06:01 AM

Yesterday morning while observing Mars a brownish feature appeared faintly several times below the NPC, very likely Utopia. I have also been observing the NPC for the last few weeks, at first coming in and out of view, but now pretty much a steadily observable feature.

I'm hoping that with the change to standard time this weekend the sky will remain dark enough so I can continue observing Mars while having my morning coffee.

Ed D


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aatt
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: Ed D]
      #6168326 - 10/31/13 11:59 AM

I was up until almost 4 last night winding up the session on Jupiter, but I could not even see Mars through the trees.Incidentally, speaking of transient observations, I think I saw a cloud feature on Uranus (around x287) coming in and out of view. Can't say if it was my brain or reality as it was so threshold and seeing was iffy. Oberon was right there intermittently, but definitively.

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mark8888
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: aatt]
      #6168364 - 10/31/13 12:18 PM

I observed Mars 3-4 weeks ago. It was small and very jumbled-up looking, showing no detail, but clearly a planet and not a star. Thoroughly looking forward to more and more Mars.

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Chopin
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: mark8888]
      #6168914 - 10/31/13 05:10 PM

Gave Mars a go two weeks ago. The seeing here in CT is so horrific all I could make out was a blurry two-toned copper dot. I'm hoping the seasonal change of fronts this November isn't drawn out.

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starcrafter
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: Chopin]
      #6195449 - 11/14/13 08:37 PM

I've never had any real luck observing Mars. I have an 8' dob, and everytime I've looked at Mars it's just a small red dot with no definition whatsoever. Granted, on the times I've observed, Mars was relatively low in the horizon, so that may well have something to do with it.

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azure1961p
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: starcrafter]
      #6195505 - 11/14/13 09:08 PM

Yeah that did it. Typically you want at least 35 degrees elevation and 45 or better is ideal. The good news is its riding high in the ecliptic so it won't be in the soup as it were. On a decent night though with your 8" so long as its over 10 arc sec in apparent size all the goodies should show - polar cap, Maria and clouds/hazes. Its a quirky object - poor seeing will turn it bald of details - you'll think a global dust storm is underway - but in good seeing with a good 8" its a veritable network of contrasts.

Pete

Edited by azure1961p (11/14/13 09:09 PM)


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djeber2
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: azure1961p]
      #6195523 - 11/14/13 09:16 PM

Mars? Whats that? Is that the thing in the sky between the 2 comets? I will wait until closer to opposition to do my Mars viewing when the image size is greater.

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dcornelis
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: djeber2]
      #6196840 - 11/15/13 04:55 PM

Mars 15/11 C14 in rough seeing :

https://picasaweb.google.com/dcornelis/C147#5946607572285109362


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Rutilus
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Reged: 12/17/10

Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: dcornelis]
      #6196929 - 11/15/13 06:05 PM

I've had a couple of goes in the last week. This morning using a 127mm f/17.7 Achromat, I was able to see the
polar cap with a dark band running along its southern edge.Also got a good view of the mare Acidilium, not bad at all
giving the small size of the planet.
Also viewed Jupiter with the same scope and the belt detail was stunning this morning.


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urassner
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: Rutilus]
      #6198539 - 11/16/13 05:26 PM Attachment (28 downloads)

Last weekend I tried for the first time to image Mars. Seeing was not the greatest, however some features were maybe imaginable.
Images were taken with a Starfire 152 and ASI 120 MC camera. Best 6000 out of 30000 frames, Stacked with Autostakkert and wavelets with Registax 6.


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Rutilus
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: urassner]
      #6198573 - 11/16/13 05:45 PM

Good image. Your image is very much like what I am seeing visually. The NPC and dark band is very easy to see,
while the rest of Mars shows fainter markings.


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urassner
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: Rutilus]
      #6198584 - 11/16/13 05:50 PM Attachment (19 downloads)

I did a little more post processing and put a picture of what Skysafari showed me at that time.
I am looking forward to the spring when Mars is a lot closer.


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azure1961p
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: urassner]
      #6198598 - 11/16/13 05:55 PM

I find the word Mars and the tick marks require 10/10 seeing.

Pete


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Rick Woods
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: urassner]
      #6198600 - 11/16/13 05:55 PM

I looked about a week ago, but all I could get was a soft fuzzy blob.

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urassner
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: azure1961p]
      #6198629 - 11/16/13 06:10 PM

That's funny. I am glad though that NASA started labeling all the planets.

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RTLR 12
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: urassner]
      #6199496 - 11/17/13 08:30 AM

The seeing this morning was fairly steady and I could see the polar cap quite easily. Some darker areas around the equator extending to both north and south. Looked to be some lighter area in the southern hemisphere that could have been ground fog in the lowlands.

Stan


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aatt
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: RTLR 12]
      #6199928 - 11/17/13 01:18 PM

I have tried three times in the last couple of weeks and it has been terrible. I can make out the disk in an orange motile halo and no detail. Jupiter last night on the other hand, was fantastic.

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Rutilus
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: aatt]
      #6203962 - 11/19/13 03:11 PM Attachment (29 downloads)

My most recent observation. Telescope was 6" F/15 Achromat at powers 225 - 450x. Things of interest, was the dark
band running benith the NCP was darker in sections.
Shape of Acidalium well seen with some darker sections with-in.
Bright patch seen on the following limb. Extremely pleased with the view giving the tiny size of Mars.

Edited by Rutilus (11/19/13 03:14 PM)


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azure1961p
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: Rutilus]
      #6204029 - 11/19/13 03:43 PM

Very nice indeed from such a minute orb!!!! You can be proud of that one - super good!

Pete


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payner
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: Rutilus]
      #6204210 - 11/19/13 05:26 PM

Great rendering of Mars so long before opposition. Thanks for posting.

Best,
Randy


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Ed D
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: payner]
      #6204586 - 11/19/13 08:34 PM

Rutilus, that's really awesome! Stan, good observations, too. Thanks for posting.

Ed D

Edited by Ed D (11/19/13 08:41 PM)


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mark8888
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: Ed D]
      #6204664 - 11/19/13 09:12 PM

In good seeing, I was able to view Mars at 340x for around 20 minutes over the weekend. It looked similar to urassner's photo above. Although small, very worthwhile viewing! It was a much better view than I had 3 weeks ago. Happy that there's so much to see yet there's still several months until opposition in April.

Awesome sketch, Rutilus...


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Rich (RLTYS)Moderator
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: Rutilus]
      #6205146 - 11/20/13 06:25 AM

Excellent sketch. Thanks for the view.

Rich (RLTYS)


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Rick Woods
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: Rich (RLTYS)]
      #6205499 - 11/20/13 11:21 AM

This is so cool that so many folks are already seeing detail!
A good omen.


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wfj
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: Rick Woods]
      #6206276 - 11/20/13 07:03 PM

Been watching Mars 7 or 8 times this fall when seeing allows, which is important for a 5" object where significant detail starts in the 300 - 500x range.

Yes, you can make out the polar cap with 3-4" telescope at upwards of 120x, and sometimes hints of more.

Rutilus, that's a great sketch. With a 12.5" f/4.8 newt at 300x, one gets teased with detail like that, although more commonly it smears into a dark "Y" or "V" for me.

When we start getting more "map like" detail with a 10"+ Mars above 40 degrees altitude, that's when it seems less like a random orb and more like a planet.

Had a patch of good seeing the morning I left to travel to Canaveral for the MAVEN launch (daughter works on Mars atmosphere sims for Berkeley's MAVEN sensors), and at 450x/32degrees I had no trouble with Mare Acidelium.

BTW, was a perfect launch of a crackly sounding Atlas V. Post apparition, in ten months it will arrive as it's on a type 2 Hohmann transfer.

Can't wait for the current cloud mass and jet stream to pass so I can see Mars again now knowing another spacecraft is inbound.


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Asbytec
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: wfj]
      #6206385 - 11/20/13 07:55 PM

I agree, it's a really nice sketch given it's apparent diameter and (since I haven't observed it, yet) it does seem to be a good omen...of things to come.

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Rutilus
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: Asbytec]
      #6224748 - 11/30/13 08:41 AM Attachment (20 downloads)

Latest outing with the scope, seeing conditions were generally poor. I fitted a 5 inch aperture mask to the scope (f/17.5)
and tried to pick out as much detail as the seeing would allow. Magnification was 225x.

Most noticeable (after the NPC) was a slender dark feature extending northwards (Syrtis Major?). At around the 5 o'clock position
on the drawing there was a large bright area, as large as the NPC but not as brilliant white in colour. I don't think this was Hellas,
could it have been the Noaches region of Mars?.
Still giving the rather poor seeing, I was pleased to pick out some detail.


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Ed D
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: Rutilus]
      #6224844 - 11/30/13 09:50 AM

It has been too many weeks since I last observed Mars, primarily due to the onslaught of clouds and rain that has lingered on and on. This morning it was clear, not the best for down here in Miami, but close. I set up at 5:00am Eastern Time (UT -5) and began observing. The polar cap was evident but other features were elusive. Then it happened again - TWILIGHT! As the sky began to lighten I started observing dark surface features coming in and out of view. Not having to work today I continued observing until the sky was bright and the view began to fade.

I have read on line about twilight being the best time to observe planets and previously have had success observing cloud bands on Venus during evening twilight. I started observing Mars this year when it was under 4.0" and had a star-like appearance, and have been following its approach. I find it amazing that during twilight the ability of our eyes to observe detail increases. I have a book on order that covers this but it hasn't gotten here yet.

It would be interesting if anyone else observing in the mornings is experiencing this.

Ed D


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azure1961p
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: Ed D]
      #6225127 - 11/30/13 12:40 PM

You nailed that desert color - superb! Well told account. Hang in there with the seeing -lol- you are not alone.

Pete

Edited by azure1961p (11/30/13 12:42 PM)


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azure1961p
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: aatt]
      #6225131 - 11/30/13 12:43 PM

Quote:

I have tried three times in the last couple of weeks and it has been terrible. I can make out the disk in an orange motile halo and no detail. Jupiter last night on the other hand, was fantastic.




We've been inundated with garbage seeing - Pickering 5 or less.

Pete


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Rutilus
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Reged: 12/17/10

Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: azure1961p]
      #6226443 - 12/01/13 06:14 AM Attachment (12 downloads)

The view this morning. Seeing conditions still poor, less than average but better than previous 24 hours.
This was at 250x magnification with the 6" f/15 Achromat.
This morning parts of Utopia visible, also clearly defined shape to the Syrtis Major, brighter arc area seen underneath SM,
I think that this was Hellas. Still a bright area on the limb at 5 o'clock position.
Detail is there to be seen, just need better seeing conditions.

Edited by Rutilus (12/01/13 06:15 AM)


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Special Ed
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: Rutilus]
      #6227402 - 12/01/13 04:16 PM

Rutilus,
Very nice observing and sketchwork, especially given Mars's 5.7 arcsec apparent diameter. What was the UT time of these observations?

In the Dec 1st sketch, Hellas would appear small because the De is +24.4 right now. That means that from our POV the center of Mars is 24 north latitude so we see significantly more of the northern hemisphere and less of the southern.

That bright area on the south following limb is intriguing. It could be a morning limb cloud--can you see it with a blue filter? Or it could be (dare I say it?) dust. Dust appears bright in a red filter. And localized dust storms are known to appear in the Serpentis/Noachis region.


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Rutilus
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: Special Ed]
      #6227598 - 12/01/13 05:53 PM

Michael - I have been starting at 05:00UT and observing for around 2 hours. I've not used any
filters for the observations. But next observing session I will have the red and blue filters handy.


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Special Ed
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: Rutilus]
      #6227824 - 12/01/13 07:53 PM

Rutilus--those times check out with what you've been identifying. Try the filters--hope you have clear skies and steady air. The forecast here is no good for the next few days.
Good luck!


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Special Ed
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: Ed D]
      #6227835 - 12/01/13 07:58 PM

Quote:

...Then it happened again - TWILIGHT! As the sky began to lighten I started observing dark surface features coming in and out of view. Not having to work today I continued observing until the sky was bright and the view began to fade.

I have read on line about twilight being the best time to observe planets and previously have had success observing cloud bands on Venus during evening twilight. I started observing Mars this year when it was under 4.0" and had a star-like appearance, and have been following its approach. I find it amazing that during twilight the ability of our eyes to observe detail increases. I have a book on order that covers this but it hasn't gotten here yet.

It would be interesting if anyone else observing in the mornings is experiencing this.

Ed D




I have experienced this seeing improvement during morning twilight many times in the past.


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buddyjesus
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Re: Anyone else observing Mars? new [Re: Special Ed]
      #6257331 - 12/16/13 11:48 PM

awesome sketch.

even with bad seeing conditions, there are still pockets of stable air that can every minute or two clear up details. I consider most of my time observing planets is watching and waiting for moments of visual clarity.


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