Wow, that was dramatic! When I first thought to catch a glimpse of the Moon occulting Mars it was not a hard commitment. Although I had a loose plan for my TV Pronto on a Tele-Pod I did not set an alarm.
Still, something woke me up just before 3:00 am. I checked the time and went to our balcony for a glimpse of the Moon. Here in Pasadena it was mostly clear but I saw wisps of clouds here and there. As Sky Safari reminded my groggy brain that the Moon was still below my horizon, my 4” Orion ED on a GEM became the preferred option. Because of the nearby trees and buildings, the balcony looked like a prime viewing location. By the time that I had moved everything out and aligned the mount, a dull reddish crescent moon was peeking through the haze. To get through the trees, I had my oak tripod jacked up until the OTA was five feet high.
Although my mount strategy managed to get me a clear view of the Moon, the image was boiling severely and I never saw Mars at all. Still, I was all set up and the weather was cooperating so… I figured the reappearance of Mars might make the effort worthwhile.
I was correct!
After 4:15 am, I grabbed my NexYZ smartphone adapter and headed for the balcony. I never powered the RA drive on the GP but my alignment was good enough for me to crank the RA knob until the Moon popped up in my 8 mm TV Plössl. The lunar image was clear, sharp, and steady but I could see clouds building in the eastern sky. I thought to mount the NexYZ for pictures but it was pre-adjusted for a TV Radian eyepiece and I decided to experience this event without the distraction of photography.
Just before 4:30 am, bang! Mars popped out and started racing away from the moon! After a good long look, I mounted my NexYZ adapter and started adjusting the camera. Just as I realized why the adapter was adjusted to fit my Radian, the image from my iPhone got dim and fuzzy. (Between the improved eye relief and field of view, my 6 mm Radian is far better than my 8 mm Plössl for use with the NexYZ adapter.) However, that did not matter because in the few short moments that It took to mount the adapter and iPhone, the eastern sky had completely clouded over!
Even without pictures, I declare victory this morning! Who else got a view of the occultation?