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Meep_Esq
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Reged: 01/02/07

Loc: Dunedin, New Zealand
A small refractor looks at Mars
      #6343672 - 01/29/14 05:01 PM

For once the 4am alarm co-coincided with good seeing and I was rewarded with reasonably crisp views of the Red Planet. It's still fairly small, but I was able to use a 6mm plossl to get 250x with steady results. The gibbous phase was easily seen and the Nth polar cap evident along with a nice contrast effect at the margins of the cap. Mars was too small to make out any definite detail, but there was an impression of mottling on the disc - alas the seeing was starting to waver as dawn approached, so it was most likely an artifact.

I also (re)learned that good seeing and patience will pay off more than you realise.

Looking forward to a few more early starts... :-)

Edited by Meep_Esq (01/29/14 06:10 PM)


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nirvanix
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 06/07/07

Loc: Saskatoon, SK
Re: A small refractor looks at Mars new [Re: Meep_Esq]
      #6343693 - 01/29/14 05:10 PM

Nice work Vaughn. Did you get any impressions of the South Polar Hood? 250x mag for a 4" refractor is great. Is it one of those Antares long achros?

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Meep_Esq
member


Reged: 01/02/07

Loc: Dunedin, New Zealand
Re: A small refractor looks at Mars new [Re: nirvanix]
      #6343813 - 01/29/14 06:04 PM

Re: polar hood - Not that I could tell. I've never tried observing Mars this early in the opposition before, so I'm not sure what I can see! Plus, for me it's our summer, and the prevailing northerly weather usually brings disturbed seeing, so I was quite lucky :-) I've done early morning vigils before now, and I'd say the results are usually worth the disturbed slumber :-)

My telescope is homebuilt from a 1980's-era Edmund Scientific objective. So it's a 100mm (almost 4 inches!) f/15. I dont think anyone sold short focus refractors much back then. They still provide (source? make?) objectives: Edmund Scientific They seem pricey now, compared to what you can get from places like Istar or D&G.

Edited by Meep_Esq (01/29/14 06:09 PM)


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kdenny2
member


Reged: 12/18/13

Re: A small refractor looks at Mars new [Re: Meep_Esq]
      #6343935 - 01/29/14 07:20 PM

FWIW, in my 8" reflector I was able to make out very subtle contrasts on Mars' disk near the poles. It'll be exciting to see what it'll look like at opposition.

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Ed D
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 04/30/10

Loc: Sunny South Florida
Re: A small refractor looks at Mars new [Re: kdenny2]
      #6344277 - 01/29/14 11:05 PM

Good observation with your 100mm. I'm up early in the mornings and prefer to observe while having my coffee. What I have noticed is that, given mornings of equally good conditions, some mornings I can observe more features while other mornings the planet seems to be more lack-luster. Hope you get more early morning opportunities and can catch more detail.

Ed D


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Meep_Esq
member


Reged: 01/02/07

Loc: Dunedin, New Zealand
Re: A small refractor looks at Mars new [Re: Ed D]
      #6345934 - 01/30/14 08:16 PM

Hi Ed

Evenings used to be my main time for observing, but of course, it could easily be midnight before the seeing has settled (And I'm a man who loves his sleep). Summer seeing seems worse than winter where I live, and mornings seem better than evenings, so I now aim to observe in the early hours as much as I can.

This mornings session was a bit of a washout. Seeing was about 2 on the Antoniadii scale (yesterday was a 1, and I really wish I'd taken the time to make a sketch! Never mind! Hope your skies improve!


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Meep_Esq
member


Reged: 01/02/07

Loc: Dunedin, New Zealand
Re: A small refractor looks at Mars new [Re: kdenny2]
      #6345944 - 01/30/14 08:23 PM

Hi Kdenny.

I'm looking forward to revamping my collection of filters - even on a wee scope they're useful enough to pull out the details. I'm also working on an 8" Newt, but who knows when that's going to be finished!

Clear skies...


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Illinois
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/18/06

Loc: near Dixon, Illinois USA
Re: A small refractor looks at Mars new [Re: Meep_Esq]
      #6346636 - 01/31/14 07:52 AM

That's good details for your telescope. 2 weeks before and after around April 15th should be good!

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Meep_Esq
member


Reged: 01/02/07

Loc: Dunedin, New Zealand
Re: A small refractor looks at Mars new [Re: Meep_Esq]
      #6365905 - 02/09/14 12:06 PM

Well I've been cursed with the most peculiar skies lately - the stars are out but the seeing has been rotten! Airy discs look like meatballs. USually the game is about the nudging and waiting for Mars to sail across the fov. When it's like this, finding focus is more of a challenge! Of course, no details of any kind could be seen. Mars remained and inscrutable orange fuzzball that would constantly flair up into a hairy mess.

However, I did have a bit of fun, looking at the turbulence by aligning on a star, and removing the eyepiece. Usually you can see the turbulent cells of air as rapidly oscillating blotches. Occasionally I've seen what appear to be streams or currents of disturbance (especially when I am looking low and west, where a small valley is.) Tonight it seemed as though I was looking at a rippling sheet. A weirdly fascinating thing to see.

Never mind, there's a change in the weather due in a few days, maybe things will improve!


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Meep_Esq
member


Reged: 01/02/07

Loc: Dunedin, New Zealand
Re: A small refractor looks at Mars new [Re: Meep_Esq]
      #6392379 - 02/23/14 01:27 PM

Well this morning's session was the most productive for a while. The weather, while clear, has been fuzzy and mushy. Yesterday we had a cold southerly which seems to have almost smoothed over the skies somehow.

Seeing was 2 - 1 on the Antoniadi scale. Mars is perceptibly bigger now. You can see the gibbous phase is less pronounced, but still there. The polar cap seems to have less contrast when compared the to rest of the disc. It seems only a smidge brighter than the disc itself. There is a suggestion of shading on the disc now, but it's very very faint and hard to tease out.

Which leads me on to the value of making a drawing, rather than scribbling lots of notes! There's no arguing with what you meant, or trying to interpret awful handwriting in your log!

Today, I could see, an unmistakable bright feature on the edge of the trailing limb at about the 8 o'clock position. A light blue filter improved the contrast between the disc and the feature. Further study with the filter, and blinking the filter lead me to believe that perhaps I was seeing a contrast effect due to a darker area on the disc itself and a gap in that dark area where the "feature" was:


I've just realised I've labelled the poles round the wrong was *doh* :-)

In my drawing the bright feature is at the bottom, with the vague darker area around it. The dotted line shows the general extent of it. I tried shading the drawing to give more of an impression as to what was there, but I forgot how gritty the scanner makes everything. The contrasts were very subtle, although the bright area seemed lighter than the polar cap.

So anyhoo, first drawing for me for the season. Looking forward to seeing more as opposition gets closer!


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kcb
super member


Reged: 07/18/13

Loc: georgian bay,canada
Re: A small refractor looks at Mars new [Re: Meep_Esq]
      #6393109 - 02/23/14 08:37 PM

hi,
i was also out with my 4'' f/15 skylight refractor and even here in ontario canada the seeing is not the best in our winter, however in slight seconds i could discern a nice disc with hints of shadings and a polar cap,hopeful for better seeing around mid march,our spring,new zealand must be a neat place,kevin


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Meep_Esq
member


Reged: 01/02/07

Loc: Dunedin, New Zealand
Re: A small refractor looks at Mars new [Re: kcb]
      #6394832 - 02/24/14 07:17 PM

Quote:

hi,
i was also out with my 4'' f/15 skylight refractor and even here in ontario canada the seeing is not the best in our winter, however in slight seconds i could discern a nice disc with hints of shadings and a polar cap,hopeful for better seeing around mid march,our spring,new zealand must be a neat place,kevin




Hi Kevin. It's interesting as to what might cause good and bad seeing. Certainly where I live the seasons play a part, cooler weather (which tends to come in from the Southern Ocean) seems more likely to be steady. Warmer weather, which has generally passed overland and spills over the top of a mountain north of me, seems less settled. I hope your seeing improves, it certainly makes all the difference with smaller instruments I think.

Where I live is a small city on the coast. Half an hours drive and you're in the country which is nice - it's mostly farmland. Dunedin is like most places I guess, some of it's pretty, some of it not so much! :-) I guess the neat thing about NZ is that you can go from city to country, to mountains and rugged bush, all in a day! :-)


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azure1961p
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 01/17/09

Loc: USA
Re: A small refractor looks at Mars new [Re: Meep_Esq]
      #6394881 - 02/24/14 07:48 PM

Vaughn,

Very nice reports. A 100mm at f/15 is nice classic set up that as you know can provide some terrific views. I'm glad you were able to get some steady seeing despite some poor as well. Ill bet your scope shows it all comes April.

Pete


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kcb
super member


Reged: 07/18/13

Loc: georgian bay,canada
Re: A small refractor looks at Mars new [Re: Meep_Esq]
      #6397168 - 02/25/14 09:20 PM

hi vaughn,
thanks for reply,
i am just opposite than you at 44.5 degrees north ,i live on georgian bay in canada where many movie stars and rock stars have cottages up here in the 30,000 islands in muskoka,i am very near the worlds first dark sky reserve torrance barrens,i live in cottage country so i dont have to travel much as it is scenic here but i always had a soft spot for new zealand,someday i wish to see the southern sky,clear skies,kevin


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Meep_Esq
member


Reged: 01/02/07

Loc: Dunedin, New Zealand
Re: A small refractor looks at Mars new [Re: Meep_Esq]
      #6425402 - 03/23/14 09:02 PM

Great view of Mars this morning. Seeing was about 1-2, but then degraded over the course of the hour. My 4 o'clock vigils might have to start earlier as Mars sinks too low in the sky and catches that muzzy horizon air by the time I finish :-)

The N.polar cap seems to be beyond my wee scope now. I thought this was the case from the 12th. There were moments where I thought I could glimpse something, but the seeing just simply wasn't perfect. I still think of all the things that make a difference to planetary observing, the seeing is the most important. In fact the disc was quite blank this morning

In the same vein, I thought there was a glimpse of a bright region on the preceding edge. Most likely an optical illusion, but it's amazing how you can convince yourself that you are seeing "something". Of course, the best thing to do is to record it and throw your observation out into the wild and see if anyone else can corroborate it :-)

I've attached my observation from the 12th. I was actually able to make a drawing. A faint band which I think is Mare Cimmerium just visible.



Clear skies everyone! :-)


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azure1961p
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 01/17/09

Loc: USA
Re: A small refractor looks at Mars new [Re: Meep_Esq]
      #6425652 - 03/23/14 11:32 PM

Well the good news is there's more interesting faces of mars than what was presented to you . Still its a nice ob and I enjoyed your report.

Pete


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Meep_Esq
member


Reged: 01/02/07

Loc: Dunedin, New Zealand
Re: A small refractor looks at Mars new [Re: Meep_Esq]
      #6450044 - 04/06/14 12:45 AM

This was an observation from a few days ago (2nd Apr). Possibly one of the best views of Mars I have ever had.

This time I set my alarm early and got up after 2am. The sky was completely steady, no twinkling stars, with a slight haze.

The seeing was easily a 1 on the Antoniadi scale, and boy did it make all the difference. I could see the tiny disc of the N.polar cap which has previously eluded me in more average seeing conditions.

This was also the first time that I didn't feel like I had to "wait" for detail to appear. It was just there:



Stretched across the lower face of Mars, was a clearly discernable hockey-stick shaped feature. The arm of the feature is Sinus Meridiani and Sinus Sabaeus. The upturned end of the "stick" is Syrtis Major. The elbow was fainter than the main body.

From the polar cap down to the 9 o'clock position a dark feature which is Mare Acidalium. The polar cap was surrounded by a light collar-region that blended into the top of M.Acidalium. The edge of the disc at 9 o'clock was also distinctly brighter, it seemed to me only slightly darker than the polecap. But more curiously, it seemed to have a definite pale yellow-white tint, which contrasted against the pale salmon colour of the disc. The southern edge of the disc also seemed to have this same pale yellow colour, but no other parts of the edge shared this trait:



So, the clouds have returned, but things are looking to pick up in the middle of the week. I can't wait! :-)


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