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Classic Planet Observation

beginner classic observing report planet refractor sketching imaging
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#1 AllanDystrup

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Posted 11 May 2018 - 05:05 AM

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     After primarily deep sky projects the past months, I hope to be able to do some planet observation this early summer (Jupiter, Saturn, Mars), using my small classic refractors. Here's my latest observation of Jupiter at the 2018 opposition :

    

JUP-01.jpg

 

 

Telescope view of Jupiter at the 2018 opposition
(2018-05-08, 00:30 Loc DST, UT+2).

    
     Setup: CZJ Zeiss 100mm refractor with Baader FFC, Zeiss diagonal, Zeiss Mark V bino plus 2x Zeiss 25mm OPMI Eyepieces. Magnification ~150x. Jupiter was at a low altitude (~17° in Libra), so the observing conditions were significantly impacted by atmospheric dust and dispersion (Trsp.~ 4/7, Seeing ~7-8/10). Furthermore, at 56°N 12°E in Denmark we are currently in astronomical dusk (the border between astronomical twilight and night) even at solar midnight, so I’m observing from a bright suburban sky (Bortle 6).

         
     Never the less, I was able to record some details, as shown in my drawing below (annotated to the right). The upwelling white ammonia crystal clouds in the equatorial, northern temperate and southern tropical zones were evident; especially the STrZ band was bright white. Also, the southern temperate zone was visible in the SW quadrant of the planet.

    

JUP-02.jpg

     
     Several bands of cool, downwelling dark brown hydrosulfide ice clouds were visible, notably the northern and southern equatorial belts, but also the north-north temperate and the south and south-south temperate belts were clearly delineating the northern pole region resp. the southern pole region.

    
     The System-1 central meridian was at 68°, while the great red spot (GRS anticyclone) was at 280° longitude, i.e. at the backside of the planet. There were however three dark barge cyclones visible in the NEB, with two broad plumes trailing SE into the EZ. The pole regions didn’t show much detail, though the SPR did at times have a mottled appearance, which may have been be caused by small white spot cyclones in the STB (?).

     

Allan


Edited by AllanDystrup, 11 May 2018 - 08:59 AM.

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#2 Illinois

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Posted 11 May 2018 - 06:41 AM

That's very nice for even as far as 56 deg. North!


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#3 Crusty99

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Posted 11 May 2018 - 07:07 PM

Allan...

 

Nice sketches.


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#4 Special Ed

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Posted 12 May 2018 - 12:51 PM

Allan,

 

Very meticulous and thorough observation and sketches.  Looking forward to more.


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#5 AllanDystrup

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Posted 13 May 2018 - 06:58 AM

Ed, -- thanks! smile.gif

 

     Well "meticulous and thorough" is pretty much my concept of observation, as opposed to just viewing (i.e. checking out, -- or just checking off...) an object.

 

     If the devil is in the detail, so are also the countless angels dancing on the tiny Airy discs of a telescope image; And sketching is my prefered tool to catch these when I'm observing visually, using either glass eyepieces or at times live video.

 

Allan


Edited by AllanDystrup, 13 May 2018 - 06:59 AM.

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#6 AllanDystrup

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 02:15 AM

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Waning gibbous Venus.

    

    

     It’s a relatively mild (6°C) early evening in late January (2020-01-22, 17:30 CEST UT+1), -- the warmest January month in recorded meteorological history here in Denmark (i.e. in the past 147 years). I’m currently passing through nautical twilight, but that’s of no significance, as my target this evening is dazzling bright Venus (another planet that has experienced a runaway greenhouse effect...). It’s a calm and clear evening with a good (5/7) transparency and a seeing just above medium (7/10), -- but Venus is rather low at ~17° altitude in Aquarius towards the SW, so not surprisingly there’s quite a bit wavering and atmospheric dispersion in the planet image as seen through the eyepiece.

    
     Venus has now come out of superior conjunction at the far side of the sun (which happened 2019-08-14); With Venus’ orbital period being only 0.6 year, it will be steadily approaching and catching up with Earth in our orbit around the sun. This evening the Venus phase is seen as a 75% illuminated waning gibbous disc, lit up from the W by the setting sun, with the terminator curving down the E hemisphere. At inferior conjunction, Venus may sometimes transit across the solar disk, and this occurs in a pattern with pairs of transits eight years apart, separated by long gaps of 121.5 years and 105.5 years. The latest pair of Venus transits was back in 2004 & 2012 (where it was clouded in Denmark), and the next pair will be in 2117 & 2125, -- so that unfortunately is out of scope for me ☹. As Venus passes through inferior conjunction, its position will change from E to W of the sun, and then it will transform from a waning "Evening Star" trailing sunset, to a waxing "Morning Star" preceding sunrise. This will happen around June 03. in 2020.

    
     What I can see in the eyepiece is of course not the surface, but rather the Venusian atmosphere that consists of a thick lower layer of CO2 (96%) topped by an upper opaque layer of highly reflective clouds of N2 with sulfuric acid droplets (SO2 + Water). The planet’s axial rotation is in an anti-clockwise direction, with the sun rising in the W and setting in the E. The surface rotation is slow, with one Venusian day = 243 Earth days, i.e. longer than a whole Venusian year of ~225 earth days. The upper atmosphere however rotates super-fast, with a period of only 4 earth days. I can detect no details in the cloud cover, neither visually nor looking closer at my smartphone images. I think maybe with a 350/60nm deep UV-filter and my small astro-camera it may be possible to detect some structure in the high Venusian clouds; I plan to try that, one of these days...

    

VENUS 2020-01-22 17.30.png

*click*

 

     -- Allan


Edited by AllanDystrup, 24 January 2020 - 08:23 AM.

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#7 Rich (RLTYS)

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Posted 24 January 2020 - 04:41 PM

Most impressive observation. waytogo.gif


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#8 AllanDystrup

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 05:38 AM

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Venus

19° Altitude, 70.3° phase, 17.3” arc

     

     

     It’s an early mid-February evening (2020-02-19, 19:00 CEST, UT+1) and I’m out in my suburban backyard for another attempt at viewing surface details on Venus. There has been an unexpected opening in the cloud cover, and the observing conditions are now quite good, with transparency and seeing both just above medium. I’m using my 4” refactor with a 4x Barlow plus a 13mm eyepiece (200x mag @ 30” FOV), and also live viewing with my CM3 machine-cam for a little higher magnification.

     
     At this high magnification, the otherwise good seeing is notably distorting the image of the planet, which is “wobbling” quite a bit in the center of the FOV. Venus is brilliantly bright and no surface details can be seen. I now try with a blue filter (Wratten 38A), which notably calms the image – but seems to also make is grainier, esp. around the limb and terminator. Still no surface details. I finally try my 8/395nm K-line double stack filter (which I sometimes use for solar obs.), and this does yield a better image than the W38A;  There’s a notable darkening of the Venusian atmosphere towards the limb and the terminator, and the darkening (maybe) seems to sometimes extend a bit more W around the equator – but it’s subtle, if it is there at all...

     
     I wonder how much better a dedicated Venus UV-filter (like the Baader 60/650nm deep UV) will fare on a 4" refractor, as compared to the 8/395nm K-line... Anyone have some thoughts/experiences to share here?

     

VENUS 2020-02-19 70pct.png

*click*

 

     -- Allan


Edited by AllanDystrup, 20 February 2020 - 07:22 AM.

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#9 Corcaroli78

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Posted 28 February 2020 - 04:03 AM

Hi Allan,

 

Very detailed and documented observations, a pleasure to read your posts (and a source of inspiration). I am surprised to see how can you move from Classic Rich Field to Classic Planetary with your enjoyable writing style.

 

As we approach spring, we will be limited soon in DK to Lunar, Solar and planetary observations. Weather in Jutland has been terrible this winter, but now it seems to improve and yesterday i started enjoying the Moon and Venus sight with the Telementor, sadly, the sky was not entirely clear but hazy.

 

Looking forward for the next posts!

 

Best regards

Carlos


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#10 AllanDystrup

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Posted 01 March 2020 - 03:35 AM

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Thank you, Carlos! smile.gif

 

     Yes, I've switched my attention for the next months from Deep Sky to Solar System observations; Not so much because of the season; -- I've done lots of DS studies in summer from my suburban backyard, focusing on brighter objects like OB-associations or "cheating" by using spectrometry, EAA and light amplification (NV). But that's another story...

    

     After completing sweeps of OB-associations and Ha-emission clouds (Sharpless) in our own Milky Way, and of galaxies out to the most distant groups and walls, I just needed to take a step back and spend some quality time with on our own solar system objects.

    

     Alas, as you write, our weather has been abominable the past fall and winter (as I also lament here), so it's very much hit-and-run observing these days.

 

     -- Allan

    


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#11 Crusty99

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Posted 05 March 2020 - 10:58 PM

....very much hit-and-run observing these days.

 

     -- Allan

I know the feeling. Thank you for sharing.


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#12 sunnyday

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Posted 05 March 2020 - 11:02 PM

I love the care you take in your description. very appreciate


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#13 Corcaroli78

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Posted 10 March 2020 - 05:26 PM

    

     Alas, as you write, our weather has been abominable the past fall and winter (as I also lament here), so it's very much hit-and-run observing these days.

 

     -- Allan

Hi Allan,

 

Abominable.... yes, that is the best description... my Telementor which was begging for observation time, spent most of the time indoors, and that is a pitty considering the long nights, but sadly it was rainy in most of the cases.

 

At least we have the Moon and Venus....

 

Carlos



#14 AllanDystrup

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Posted 28 March 2020 - 03:29 AM

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Venus at E Elongation 2020

    

    

     It’s now near the end of March 2020, and Venus is just past max eastern elongation, presenting a nice half sphere with the terminator right down the middle. I’m out in my suburban backyard in a clear and calm evening, with Venus higher up and in somewhat better seeing conditions than when I last observed it two weeks past inferior conjunction back in mid-February this year.

    
     Again, this evening I’m using my 4” refractor with a 4x barlow plus a 13mm eyepiece (200x mag @ 30” FOV), and also live viewing with my CM3 machine cam for a little higher magnification.

    

     The image tonight shows a planet disc that has increased in size from 17.3” to 24” but also decreased in illumination from 67% to now 50% in the five weeks since my last observation. There’s a notable darkening along the planet limb and terminator, presenting the planet clearly as a spherical ball rather than just a flat crescent disc. I can however still not detect any indication of cloud structure in the Venusian atmosphere (I’ll need to order that deep UV-filter, -- but the price...!)

    

 

VENUS 2020-03-26.png

*click*

     -- Allan


Edited by AllanDystrup, 28 March 2020 - 11:10 AM.

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#15 AllanDystrup

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Posted 28 May 2020 - 06:53 AM

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Venus in blue jeans...

Venus closing in on inferior conjunction.

    

     
      Venus is closing in on inferior conjunction here in late May 2020, moving steadily closer to the sun (New Venus will be June 03. 2020). As the sun sets towards the NW, the waning crescent of the planet gets increasingly more difficult to catch in the evening twilight, at least from my suburban backyard, where buildings and trees are blocking the view towards the northern horizon.

    

     Instead I can use the setting circles on my manual equatorial mount to “dial in” the current position of the planet, and in this way catch a good daylight view of Venus high up on the SE sky. So this is what I did on May 26. and 28. around 11 AM local time, and even though the sky was partly cloudy and the seeing not the best, I managed to get a good observation of crescent Venus; The best view was possibly a 4° field @15x (41mm Pan on my 4” 100 f/6.4 refractor) showing the crisp small sharp sickle sailing steadily through the huge bright blue sea of daylight sky – just beautiful!

    

     Here’s a couple of snapshots from my observation:

 

2020-05-28 Venus in blue jeans.jpg
*click*

 

     -- Allan


Edited by AllanDystrup, 28 May 2020 - 01:10 PM.

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#16 AllanDystrup

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Posted 28 May 2020 - 07:05 AM

.

Venus 2020-05-26.jpg
*click*

     -- Allan


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#17 AstroVPK

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Posted 28 May 2020 - 08:24 AM

Nice picture!!
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#18 AllanDystrup

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Posted 29 May 2020 - 08:02 AM

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     And another couple of views of the crescent Venus from this AM [2020-05-29 at 10:30 local DST (UR+2)]. I was using my 4" f/6.4 refractor, this time with K32mm (20x) plus O16mm (40x) eyepieces and a handheld iPhone for snapshots:

 

2020-05-29 10-30 VENUS.png
*click*

 

     I'm starting to get reflexes in my diagonal from the 8½ dg close by sun, so this will probably be my last Venus observation before inferior conjunction. Mercury is still 22½ dg away from the sun, but more difficult to spot in daylight, being smaller and fainter and thus requiring excellent transparency and seeing. I tried to see it, but with no success…

    

     -- Allan

 

 

 

 


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#19 AllanDystrup

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Posted 03 June 2020 - 01:43 PM

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“New Venus”, first half of 2020.

    

    

     Venus crosses inferior conjunction today, swinging in it’s orbit right between the Earth and the Sun.

 

     This of course renders the planet invisible from our vantage point in the universe, but I have observed Venus since it moved out from superior conjunction behind the sun (2019-08-14), then east the next 220 days, while it brightened as the  “Evening Star”, catching up with Earth until it reached its greatest eastern elongation from the sun (2020-03-24).

 

     Then, the next 72 days, it has moved on a trajectory taking it west between the earth and the sun, where it today finally reached inferior conjunction (2020-06-03), just 33 arcminutes above the sun (alas solar disc transits only happen approximately every 100 years, the latest was in 2012 and next is scheduled to 2117).

    

     Here’s a small compilation of my Venus observations from the first half of 2020:

 

VENUS 2020 Waning.png
*click*

 

     -- Allan


Edited by AllanDystrup, 03 June 2020 - 02:08 PM.

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#20 AllanDystrup

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Posted 23 June 2020 - 08:45 AM

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Venus @ 27°W Elongation.

    

    

     Venus is now well past inferior conjunction (which was June 03. 2020); Today is June 23., and the waxing crescent Venus is now seen at 47° altitude, just 27° west of the Sun. On August 13. Venus will reach its max. western elongation (45.8°W), where after it will circle in towards the next superior conjunction behind the Sun (on Mar 26. 2021).

         

     I have my 4” refractor out this early AM (09:30 Local DST, CEST UT+2), with a Neodymium+UV/IR cut filter in the diagonal to reduce the sky glow from the close by Sun. The ambient temperature is a comfortable 17°C with the humidity down at 55%, but there’s a light wind resulting in some atmospheric turbulence with reduced seeing. I can however still bump up the magnification to 80x (TV 8mm Ethos), and yet get quite a good image of the brilliantly bright crescent planet.

    

VENUS 200623 27dgE.png

*click*

    
Here's a small recording from my observation: https://www.youtube....h?v=5oQpVxVU6Qo (pardon the babbling from my new garden pond smile.gif).

     

     -- Allan


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#21 AllanDystrup

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 01:40 AM

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Daytime Mars, 2020-06-24 09:30 AM.

     

     

     It’s the early forenoon on June 24. 2020 (09:30 AM local DST, CEST UT+2), and I’m out in my backyard in broad daylight with my 4” refractor to catch a preview of Mars. The red planet is moving steadily east and up on the celestial sphere these weeks, currently crossing the border from Aquarius into Pisces and headed further up towards Aries and Taurus. On August 02. its orbit will take it closest to the sun (perihelion) where after in September, the Earth in its inner orbit will start to catch up with Mars until both planets align with the sun on October 12 (at opposition).

    

     Right now, I see Mars at an altitude of 22° towards the SW (96°W elongation from the Sun), with an apparent angular diameter of only 11” and an illumination of 84.4% (at opposition it will be fully illuminated and double in size: 22.6” diameter).

 

     At 16x magnification it shows up as just a bright star (visual magnitude ~ -0.4) while at 50x magnification it is evident that it is a planet, and I can just glimpse the disc as a ~80% illuminated slightly oblong 'American football', with the Sun-facing E hemisphere fully lit up, whereas the far W horizon is in shadow. The dark Syrtis Major dusty plain should be right at the center of Mars this AM, -- and at times I think I catch glimpses of this surface feature..., but it is probably just the seeing that is pulling my eye.

 

2020-06-24 MARS.jpg
*click*

    

     -- Allan


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#22 AllanDystrup

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 01:57 AM

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VENUS 2020-06-29 09:00 AM

    

    

     Another early AM daytime observation of Venus, first with a standard UV/IR cut filter (400-690nm pass) and then with a dedicated U-Venus filter (300-400nm pass). The latter a bit more "noisy", but possibly with a potential for showing more cloud details; This, however, may require a more steady atmosphere and probably a larger aperture than my 4" refractor. We'll see...

 

VENUS 2020-06-29.png

VENUS 2020 JUNE.png
*click*

 

     -- Allan


Edited by AllanDystrup, 30 June 2020 - 02:04 AM.

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#23 AllanDystrup

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Posted 24 July 2020 - 01:58 AM

.

GG-01S.jpg

GG-02S.png

*click*

    

     -- Allan


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#24 Corcaroli78

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Posted 29 July 2020 - 02:15 AM

.

attachicon.gifGG-01S.jpg

attachicon.gifGG-02S.png

*click*

    

     -- Allan

Hi Allan,

 

That is a very good visual summary of how the two gas giants look now in Denmark.  We enjoyed some clear weather last week here in Jutland and i had a dedicated session on Jupiter and Saturn, much like your observation. 

 

Thanks for sharing!

 

Carlos


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#25 AllanDystrup

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Posted 02 August 2020 - 07:48 AM

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Daytime VENUS

    

    

     It's the first day of August 2020, and I'm out in my suburban backyard in the forenoon at 09:30 AM to observe the daytime Venus. Our sister planet is now closing in on greatest western elongation (which will be August 13.), so the illumination has increased to now 43%, while the apparent angular diameter has decreased to just 27".

 

 

VENUS 2020-08-01.png
*click*

    

    

     Here's a summary of my Venus observations from 2020, up till now:

 

VENUS 2020 01.jpg

VENUS 2020 02.png
*click*

 

     -- Allan


Edited by AllanDystrup, 02 August 2020 - 12:36 PM.

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