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Mars on Film in 1971 With 88-inch Telescope

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#1 Rustler46

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 03:26 AM

I don't think this has been posted before. But my friend Bob Murphy, a retired "rocket scientist" (really), shared this Mars image taken by himself. He writes in part:

  • The images shot at the Coudé focus have wonderful plate scale, but the seeing is awful. It was much better at the Cassegrain focus, but the plate scale was such that the photographic grain was an issue.
  • Here is a Mars image from 1971, also taken at the Coudé focus of the 2.2 meter telescope. It's pretty awful, but that was as good as it got for all but the most persistent observers. I don’t have the exposure info handy on this, but it was probably Ekachrome with ASA of 100 or 200 and about 1 second in duration. We had moments at the Cassegrain focus (f/10) where the seeing was much better than this, so I have seen it in wonderful detail … for a few moments.

Bob worked with the newly minted 2.2 meter telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii as a young man. He is still going strong in various forms of photography. This is his website:

Here's his Mars photo dated 1971 August 2, 88-inch (2.2 meters) aperture, f/33:

 

Mars 1971-08-02 1338 UT 88%22 f33.jpg

 

Here's a link to a Saturn photograph made by Bob Murphy under similar circumstances:

It is really amazing what those in the film era were able to accomplish. We've got it much easier now. What could a commonplace ZWO planetary video camera  accomplish if used on the 2.2 meter telescope at nearly 14,000 ft (4200 meters) elevation? Enjoy!

 

Russ


Edited by Rustler46, 03 December 2019 - 04:55 AM.

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#2 checcocpb

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 07:08 AM

Thank you for sharing this unusual document, very interesting to see professional images from the film era. There is a topic here on the forum with images from the 1m telescope at Pic du Midi in France with a planetary modern camera, very impressive too.

Cheers



#3 RNSpeed

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 08:45 AM

Impressive picture of Mars from the film era 😍. Those were the times where astronomers had to wait for the film to be developed to see the results. It was the time of do it well before the film roll runs out. No registax, no Photoshop, no Pixinsight etc.
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#4 John Boudreau

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 09:19 AM

Thanks for posting this and please thank Bob for sharing his work. As a planetary imager who used film back in the 1970's and to as recently as 2003 using the 'hat trick' exposure method to eliminate system vibrations I really appreciate the "old" art of film imaging of planets. waytogo.gif

 

Have to mention though that right off I noticed that this Mars image is mirror reversed. And after checking with WinJupos, I see that your earlier post of Bob's Saturn film image is also mirror reversed. Saturn is so symmetrical that one has to use the planet's shadow on the rings to determine the orientation. wink.gif


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#5 gfstallin

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 11:28 AM

This image is much like those from a book about Mars that was in my elementary school library in the late 1980s. It had pages and pages of B&W photographs showing changing dark and light zones and the expanding and shrinking polar caps taken at what must have been a professional observatory. Considering the timing of apparitions and a rotation rate that nearly matches our own, the effort (and/or access to information) on the part of the author must have been significant. I actually did write to the author, but the publishing house responded that the author had died. As a 7-year-old budding astronomer who checked the book out every week for nearly an entire school year, I was heartbroken. Of course, being an elementary school library in the 1980s, the book was from the 1950s or early 1960s. It was possible the author had passed at an advanced age even decades before I ever checked the book out. Seven-year-olds who stay up late to watch their other new hero, Jack Horkheimer, don't quite grasp how finite the human experience with time is. 

 

Which brings me to how infinite the advance of technology can sometime seem. I think most folks these days with a 200 mm or larger telescope and serious about planetary imaging would erase such images as those above from their hard drives to save space, or save the image as an example of effects of poor seeing. I hate to say we live in a golden age - I suspect every generation since the Industrial Revolution has in some way thought of its own age as a "golden age." Still, at least for amateur astronomy, we're living in special times.  

 

Lastly, this image also gives me a better appreciation for how astronomers - especially those in the past but also currently - can glean from so much from so little. 

 

George


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#6 Sunspot

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 01:39 PM

Was that book written by Charles "Chick" Capen? He was THE Mars guy until he died in 1986.



#7 Rustler46

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 03:40 PM

Thanks for posting this and please thank Bob for sharing his work. As a planetary imager who used film back in the 1970's and to as recently as 2003 using the 'hat trick' exposure method to eliminate system vibrations I really appreciate the "old" art of film imaging of planets. waytogo.gif

 

Have to mention though that right off I noticed that this Mars image is mirror reversed. And after checking with WinJupos, I see that your earlier post of Bob's Saturn film image is also mirror reversed. Saturn is so symmetrical that one has to use the planet's shadow on the rings to determine the orientation. wink.gif

I had also noticed the image of Mars was a mirror image of my own Mars photo. I wonder if the Coudé focus uses an odd number of mirrors. If so that would account for the reversal. I used the Mars Profiler on the Sky and Telescope website to help identify some features on Bob's Mars image. The file-name (Mars 1971-08-02 1338 UT 88" f33.jpg) of the Mars photo preserved date & time information, as would be expected from a professional scientist.

 

Screen Shot 2019-12-03 at 12.35.14 PM.png

 

Here is Bob's photo which I have rotated 180° to match the Mars Profiler view.

Mars 1971-08-02 1338 UT 88%22 f33-2.jpg

 

Syrtis Major and Hellas are well seen, along with the "hockey stick" figure of Sinus Sabaeus/Sinus Meridiani. That feature was of interest to me since it showed up in my own photo of Mars taken over 30 years later.


Edited by Rustler46, 03 December 2019 - 06:25 PM.


#8 John Boudreau

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 08:47 PM

I had also noticed the image of Mars was a mirror image of my own Mars photo. I wonder if the Coudé focus uses an odd number of mirrors. If so that would account for the reversal. I used the Mars Profiler on the Sky and Telescope website to help identify some features on Bob's Mars image. The file-name (Mars 1971-08-02 1338 UT 88" f33.jpg) of the Mars photo preserved date & time information, as would be expected from a professional scientist.

 

attachicon.gif Screen Shot 2019-12-03 at 12.35.14 PM.png

 

Here is Bob's photo which I have rotated 180° to match the Mars Profiler view.

attachicon.gif Mars 1971-08-02 1338 UT 88%22 f33-2.jpg

 

Syrtis Major and Hellas are well seen, along with the "hockey stick" figure of Sinus Sabaeus/Sinus Meridiani. That feature was of interest to me since it showed up in my own photo of Mars taken over 30 years later.

You've simply rotated the image 180° so that it's now north up--- that doesn't correct the mirror reversal. No biggie--- I don't want to be the orientation police and have been guilty of mirror reversal myself. Just though I'd mention it in case you weren't aware. flowerred.gif

 

Historically (for well over 100 years), observers and many imagers would usually present their results planetary south up, with planetary east to the left as viewed straight through in an inverting telescope. You also had originally posted south up, but with east to the right. Myself, I prefer north up and east to the left--- that's what NASA typically does, and when we make time lapse results I think they tend to play as most people would tend to expect. crazyeyes.gif



#9 NinePlanets

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 09:13 PM

Thanks for that. 1971 was my first opposition with my first telescope, a 3" Trashco refractor with crummy eyepieces but it thrilled the socks off of me! I've been watching Mars ever since. (It all started in 1964 when I read Heinlein's Red Planet.)


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#10 Rustler46

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 09:56 PM

You've simply rotated the image 180° so that it's now north up--- that doesn't correct the mirror reversal. No biggie--- I don't want to be the orientation police and have been guilty of mirror reversal myself. Just though I'd mention it in case you weren't aware. flowerred.gif

 

Historically (for well over 100 years), observers and many imagers would usually present their results planetary south up, with planetary east to the left as viewed straight through in an inverting telescope. You also had originally posted south up, but with east to the right. Myself, I prefer north up and east to the left--- that's what NASA typically does, and when we make time lapse results I think they tend to play as most people would tend to expect. crazyeyes.gif

Thanks John for your comments. Oh yes, I was quite aware of what I was doing. There was no intention to offend anyone with how Bob's photo was displayed. The rotation was only to make it match what the Mars Profiler showed for a mirror reversed image. This was to help identify features captured in the photo. While the Sky and Telescope Mars Profiler has an option of choosing north or south up in a non-mirrored view, it doesn't offer that option for the mirrored view. So I was dealing with the options available. Personally I don't think it needs correcting. Nor do I feel guilty for presenting Bob's image as he captured it, mirror-reversed and all. It is after all the view many of us have with refractors and SCT/MCT telescopes with star diagonal (odd number of reflections). Anyone who wants to manipulate the image to his/her liking can just download from CloudyNights and use your favorite image editor. Have at it! And share your edited correct image with the rest of us. smile.gif

 

Best Regards,

Russ 


Edited by Rustler46, 04 December 2019 - 09:39 PM.

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#11 gfstallin

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Posted 05 December 2019 - 11:36 AM

Was that book written by Charles "Chick" Capen? He was THE Mars guy until he died in 1986.

Unfortunately, I do not remember, but thank you for the clue! I've been wondering for years what the title of the book was. As a 7-year-old, my note taking was not as good as it might have been. smile.gif

 

Unsurprisingly, about 30 years later (or two years ago, whichever is less pathetically geeky) I wrote to the editor of The New Solar System - fourth edition (J. Kelly Beatty) and asked when he'd be making the fifth edition. I explained that the fourth edition is getting a bit dated, as it came out when I was a freshman in college 20 years ago. Current readers of the fourth edition wouldn't know if Cassini ever made it to Saturn, and would be more likely to get their information from the streets. Being the only guy in my college dorm with a quality fake ID that had proven results, I was tasked with buying a handle of Captain Morgan as payment for a ride to a Barnes & Noble 40 miles away to pick up the book, which I had reserved. That was perhaps the most enriching and valid use of a fake ID in the history of underage drinking. As incentive to get the ball rolling on that fifth edition, I informed Mr. Beatty that I was willing to use only strictly legal methods to purchase it this time. Unfortunately, he was unmotivated by my very attractive offer of legal methods of payment and the prevention of a new generation of roving gangs of teens who roam the streets spreading misinformation regarding the hydrocarbon cycle on Titan. I think he had some excuse about the publishing house being very unlikely to approve the time and cost of the venture. grin.gif

 

George


Edited by gfstallin, 05 December 2019 - 11:43 AM.

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#12 John Boudreau

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Posted 05 December 2019 - 01:14 PM

This image is much like those from a book about Mars that was in my elementary school library in the late 1980s. It had pages and pages of B&W photographs showing changing dark and light zones and the expanding and shrinking polar caps taken at what must have been a professional observatory. Considering the timing of apparitions and a rotation rate that nearly matches our own, the effort (and/or access to information) on the part of the author must have been significant. I actually did write to the author, but the publishing house responded that the author had died. As a 7-year-old budding astronomer who checked the book out every week for nearly an entire school year, I was heartbroken. Of course, being an elementary school library in the 1980s, the book was from the 1950s or early 1960s. It was possible the author had passed at an advanced age even decades before I ever checked the book out. Seven-year-olds who stay up late to watch their other new hero, Jack Horkheimer, don't quite grasp how finite the human experience with time is. 

 

Which brings me to how infinite the advance of technology can sometime seem. I think most folks these days with a 200 mm or larger telescope and serious about planetary imaging would erase such images as those above from their hard drives to save space, or save the image as an example of effects of poor seeing. I hate to say we live in a golden age - I suspect every generation since the Industrial Revolution has in some way thought of its own age as a "golden age." Still, at least for amateur astronomy, we're living in special times.  

 

Lastly, this image also gives me a better appreciation for how astronomers - especially those in the past but also currently - can glean from so much from so little. 

 

George

In the early 60's (my copy says 1962) there was a superb Mars book published by Sky Publishing and Northland Press with many B&W photos with dates ranging from the early 1900's to the late 1950's named "The Photographic Story of Mars". It was written by Earl C. Slipher (1883-1964) who was an astronomer at Lowell Observatory for many years and noted for his observational work and photography of Mars. Many of the Mars photos in the book were taken by Slipher. I'm lucky to have a very clean version of this book that had been privately owned. Slipher also had a nice Mars article with photos in the September 1955 issue of National Geographic (I own 2 "new" copies that I bought from National Geographic just a few years ago). The Photographic Story of Mars was about 9x12" and the hardcover was dark red (there was also a dark blue edition published for the Air Force). 

 

Shortly before his death Slipher also authored a similar book published in 1964 published by Lowell Observatory and the National Geographic Society that was titled: "A Photographic Study of the Brighter Planets". While it has some great Mars photos, it also has many photos of Venus, Jupiter and Saturn. There are even 3 of Mercury in 1934. I was surprised to see that they were imaging Venus as far back as the late 1920's with UV film that recorded atmospheric features! This book was the same size as his Mars book although there are fewer pages, and it has a blue cover. I have a copy of this book that's in virtually new condition.


Edited by John Boudreau, 05 December 2019 - 09:21 PM.

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#13 Kokatha man

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Posted 05 December 2019 - 06:57 PM

...any questions concerning "Chick" Capen would best be directed to one of his compadres, Jeff Beish on this forum! ;)


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#14 Sunspot

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Posted 05 December 2019 - 08:04 PM

...any questions concerning "Chick" Capen would best be directed to one of his compadres, Jeff Beish on this forum! wink.gif

Very true and I'm proud to say that Chick was one of my best friends from 1975 til his untimely passing in 1986 as well. smile.gif smile.gif smile.gif


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#15 gfstallin

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Posted 05 December 2019 - 09:09 PM

I the early 60's (my copy says 1962) there was a superb Mars book published by Sky Publishing and Northland Press with many B&W photos with dates ranging from the early 1900's to the late 1950's named "The Photographic Story of Mars". It was written by Earl C. Slipher (1883-1964) who was an astronomer at Lowell Observatory for many years and noted for his observational work and photography of Mars. Many of the Mars photos in the book were taken by Slipher. I'm lucky to have a very clean version of this book that had been privately owned. Slipher also had a nice Mars article with photos in the September 1955 issue of National Geographic (I own 2 "new" copies that I bought from National Geographic just a few years ago). The Photographic Story of Mars was about 9x12" and the hardcover was dark red (there was also a dark blue edition published for the Air Force). 

 

Shortly before his death Slipher also authored a similar book published in 1964 published by Lowell Observatory and the National Geographic Society that was titled: "A Photographic Study of the Brighter Planets". While it has some great Mars photos, it also has many photos of Venus, Jupiter and Saturn. There are even 3 of Mercury in 1934. I was surprised to see that they were imaging Venus as far back as the late 1920's with UV film that recorded atmospheric features! This book was the same size as his Mars book although there are fewer pages, and it has a blue cover. I have a copy of this book that's in virtually new condition.

"The Photographic Story of Mars" - That's it!! I did a Google image search and yes! The cover didn't do it for me, again, I was 7. The pages of photographic plates did it. Those were seared into my memory.

I'm just fascinated an elementary school library had that book. It must have been a donation. I'm happy some librarian had the foresight to put it in circulation and let some kid struggle with it. I suspect there weren't very many of us who checked it out over the years. 

 

Thank you, John! 

 

George


Edited by gfstallin, 05 December 2019 - 09:38 PM.

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#16 TxStars

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Posted 05 December 2019 - 10:15 PM

Getting a good mars image on film is always a pain..

My best are from 1988 using a C 14 & E-100

 

post-12231-0-33489900-1547254234.jpg


Edited by TxStars, 05 December 2019 - 10:17 PM.

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#17 Rustler46

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 01:51 AM

Syrtis Major and Hellas are well seen, along with the "hockey stick" figure of Sinus Sabaeus/Sinus Meridiani. That feature was of interest to me since it showed up in my own photo of Mars taken over 30 years later.

Not to take anything away from Bob's accomplishment in 1971, but I wanted to share what was possible 9 years ago with digital equipment available then:

 

Screen Shot 2019-12-05 at 10.02.55 PM.png

Mars (13.8 arc-seconds in diameter) - February 7, 2010 (8 days past opposition), Celestron-11 w/ eyepiece-projection, 14,500 mm focal length, f/52, Imaging Source DMK 21AU04 ASA mono video camera (640 X 480 pixels resolution - around 1/3 megapixel), best frames from around 17,000 stacked with Registax

 

Nowadays we have much more capable cameras and improved software. But in my Mars image above take note of  the "hockey stick" outline of Sinus Sabaeus/Sinus Meridiani (left side), also seen in Bob's 1971 rendition below. His is a mirror image (odd number of reflections), while mine is a "correct" (even number of reflections). Also the rotation is quite different. Note that only the end of the hockey stick is seen in both photos. Now in 2019 (some 48 years after 1971) we have the means of producing some amazing planetary images. Yet Bob Murphy's Mars photo is astounding for that era. 

 

Mars 1971-08-02 1338 UT 88%22 f33-2.jpg

 

Remember!! -  October 6, 2020 Mars will have another favorable apparition when its angular extent will be 22.6 arc-seconds. That will be 1.6X the size of my 2010 image. For my 43° north latitude Mars will be over 52° in elevation. But the southern hemisphere will also have a good view. 

 

So NOW is the time to gather equipment and hone our planetary imaging skills to take advantage of that opportunity. The last apparition in 2018, a planet-wide dust storm obscured Mar when it was closest. Hopefully it will be better next year.


Edited by Rustler46, 06 December 2019 - 02:25 AM.

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#18 Kokatha man

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 03:19 AM

Getting a good mars image on film is always a pain..

My best are from 1988 using a C 14 & E-100

 

Old film & modern digital can work together a tad TxStars - I dropped the scale & they needed some noise reduction, but I think you can be reasonably proud of your results! waytogo.gifwaytogo.gif waytogo.gif

 

TxStarsMars.png

 

Not to take anything away from Bob's accomplishment in 1971, but I wanted to share what was possible 9 years ago with digital equipment available then:

 

Remember!! -  October 6, 2020 Mars will have another favorable apparition when its angular extent will be 22.6 arc-seconds. That will be 1.6X the size of my 2010 image. For my 43° north latitude Mars will be over 52° in elevation. But the southern hemisphere will also have a good view. 

 

So NOW is the time to gather equipment and hone our planetary imaging skills to take advantage of that opportunity. The last apparition in 2018, a planet-wide dust storm obscured Mar when it was closest. Hopefully it will be better next year.

Too true Russ, although more southerly residents in the Sthn. Hemisphere like us had our golden moments at around 80° & 24-odd arcsecs compromised a bit by the large storm activity in 2018, but we still managed to pick up plenty of good captures... smile.gif


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#19 Rustler46

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 03:41 AM

.... more southerly residents in the Sthn. Hemisphere like us had our golden moments at around 80° & 24-odd arcsecs compromised a bit by the large storm activity in 2018, but we still managed to pick up plenty of good captures... smile.gif

I was so bummed by the dust storm as closest approach neared that I didn't even try capturing any Mars photos in 2018. But please do share what you or others captured. You are free to post them on this thread if you want - as OP, I don't object. I doubt if Bob Murphy would mind either. At some point a thread just about the 2020 Mars apparition might be appropriate. Please go ahead and start such a thread if you feel inclined. Maybe getting a single thread going now (perhaps way early) would be better than multiple threads started as close approach nears.

 

Kind regards,

Russ



#20 Kokatha man

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 07:22 PM

I was so bummed by the dust storm as closest approach neared that I didn't even try capturing any Mars photos in 2018. But please do share what you or others captured. You are free to post them on this thread if you want - as OP, I don't object. I doubt if Bob Murphy would mind either. At some point a thread just about the 2020 Mars apparition might be appropriate. Please go ahead and start such a thread if you feel inclined. Maybe getting a single thread going now (perhaps way early) would be better than multiple threads started as close approach nears.

 

Kind regards,

Russ

lol.gif I give Joe the Ferret a hard enough time reposting his Mars, Jupiter & Saturn trio so often that I couldn't risk the flack of doing it too often myself Russ..!

 

But here's our "go to whoa" of the 2018 apparition if you're interested https://momilika.net...ars2018Pics.htm    

 

One of the benefits of the very large dust storm last year was the way it defined many lower-lying terrains on Mars, such as the Valles Marineris system & many small craters with depositions of lighter dust, as, for example this annotated image on this page: https://momilika.net...ted-Website.png   (part of the previous link's image series...)


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#21 Rustler46

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 08:08 PM

lol.gif I give Joe the Ferret a hard enough time reposting his Mars, Jupiter & Saturn trio so often that I couldn't risk the flack of doing it too often myself Russ..!

 

But here's our "go to whoa" of the 2018 apparition if you're interested https://momilika.net...ars2018Pics.htm    

 

One of the benefits of the very large dust storm last year was the way it defined many lower-lying terrains on Mars, such as the Valles Marineris system & many small craters with depositions of lighter dust, as, for example this annotated image on this page: https://momilika.net...ted-Website.png   (part of the previous link's image series...)

How inspiring, (Darrell is it?)!  I'm just starting to enjoy the 2018 results in those links. I'm jazzed up for it. jump.gif  Uranus is about the size of Mars right now, but more favorably placed in the evening skies. I intend to use it to get a handle on sampling, atmospheric dispersion and other  issues of importance. Not having (or wanting to fuss with) color filters I'll be using a OSC ASI290MC.

 

Edit:

Looking at your images showing where settling dust has enhanced certain feature shows that dust isn't all bad. Could there also be cases where wind blows dust off the higher features (making them darker) to settle preferentially in the lower canyons and craters? Just a thought.


Edited by Rustler46, 06 December 2019 - 08:26 PM.


#22 Kokatha man

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Posted 06 December 2019 - 08:55 PM

I'll answer to "Mo" "Darryl" of "K-man" Russ - or any name that isn't rude..! lol.gif

 

Your question about increased albedo variation on more windswept dark features is interesting but tbh I thought that 2016 displayed much greater tonal variation on Mars: https://momilika.net...ars2016Pics.htm  where the presence of clouds was much more prevalent also...  https://momilika.net...-29_rgb_dpm.png      (if CN places this %C2%A0%C2%A0 on the end of the link remove it & it'll work!)


Edited by Kokatha man, 06 December 2019 - 09:00 PM.


#23 TxStars

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Posted Yesterday, 03:52 AM

@ Kokatha man

The images I posted are just Jpeg copy's of the slides using a slide duplicator on my Canon T3i  

Then did a cut and paste in paint shop to get them in one frame and fit posting limits.

I have a little over 20 decent slides in storage shot on different days covering the entire disk for 1988. 

Some have limb haze and clouds like the right side image.

Several of our club members here in Houston have many good images from the same nights as we were swapping cameras on and off the same telescope.


Edited by TxStars, Yesterday, 03:58 AM.



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