Thursday night / Friday morning, the weather was vexing me;
The Met Office were utterly unable to produce a set of forecasts which agreed with each other, even contradicting themselves on the same page! and I didn't know whether to observe Jupiter and Saturn before bed or get up early and observe Mars.
I can't do them all in one session without staying up all night due to the positions of trees nearby, and we had a family day out planned on Friday so that was not an option!
I sat outside watching the thin stratus drifting in from the West and decided to forget Jupiter and Saturn and chance it with Mars in the morning. One final check of the Met Office website before bed (they had changed it yet again) and it finally made sense, the same stratus as I was seeing over my head was on their map now, and they were showing a plume of clear warm dry air arriving at about 4am bst from the south to push the clouds away.
I was up at 4am bst (3am ut), the sky still murky with the same westward drifting stratus, but clear enough to begin with Mars. Within 10 minutes that warm dry southerly air arrived and I had a beautiful clear sky with pretty steady seeing too.
Mars was good and steady, if a little soft, and I upped the power to 410x.
The view in integrated light showed Mare Cimmerium and Mare Sirenum cutting diagonally across the disc, to their south Mare Tyrrhenum, and the brighter areas of Electris and Eridania, further south Mare Chronium, and just under the SPC Thyle II.
The limb at the Northernmost part of the disc appeared pretty bright white (NPH I assume), this mist continued up the morning limb as far as the tip of Mare Cimmerium.
The entire of the morning limb appeared rather yellow to me, as if I was seeing dust suspended in the Martian atmosphere, more so further south. This impression was strongest when the seeing was at its best, somewhat elusive otherwise.
Contrast of the darker features was somewhat muted still, I assume from dust fallout.
After observing in integrated light (with and without apodizer to record details, and their true colours), I then used a W23a red filter to scrutinise the darker albedo features and pick off a few fine details, such as Cerberus streaking away from Sinus Gomer towards the NPH, denoting the boundary of the brighter area of Elysium.
The SPC was very interesting, and difficult. There was the usual elliptical shape but I could see two projections, or maybe detached areas of ice, either side of the cap. One at around 290° which I took to be the end of Novus Mons, and the other (more prominent) at around 110° which I do not know the name of.
Between these two bright patches the boundary of the cap was not regular, but many tiny wisps of white could be seen laying over the surrounding darker surface, impossible to resolve clearly and as hard to represent on a sketch, but I have tried. The W80a blue filter was helpful with these details.
Later in the day that plume of dry warm southerly air brought temperatures of 33°C and clear blue skies.
When we came back from our day out I decided to have a look at the Sun which (for the first time I believe) had two spots from the new cycle 25 on display at the same time, could this finally mean solar minimum might be coming to an end.....
This one is just a quick sketch, and I don't usually observe the Sun, but the seeing was excellent, Ant II / I. Granulation stood out sharp and contrasty over the whole disc for extended periods.
Both spots has extensive regions of plage associated with them which were a pleasure to observe and sketch.
This was done with the Orion OD300, Baader solar film full aperture filter, binovewiers and 25mm plossls, at 80x.
So Maybe Jupiter and Saturn one day......
Edited by chrisrnuttall, 02 August 2020 - 03:10 AM.