Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Mars - August/September 2020

  • Please log in to reply
117 replies to this topic

#1 JOEinCO

JOEinCO

    Apollo

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1,090
  • Joined: 28 Sep 2017
  • Loc: Colorado Front Range

Posted 07 August 2020 - 05:36 AM

I started a thread in May for Mars observing notes as the "season" started. With that period ended, I've had a few requests to fire one up for the approach to opposition, so let's make this one August and September.

 

......

 

August 7, 2020 :: 2:30-4:00am MDT/0830-1000 UT

80mm f/6 @ 143X and 204X

Seeing 2/5

Mars Apparent Diameter 15.4" - Distance 56,900,000 miles

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

 

First night with Mars in three weeks. It was good to get some eyepiece time. Kept it simple with the 80mm refractor, and started looking around 2:00. On Mars only from about 2:30 until 4:00.

 

South Polar Cap seems smaller in my 3 week observing absence, but I'm going from memory, not sketches. Utopia was prominent just north of the SPC in moments of better seeing. To me it had a slightly triangular northern edge that faded off much more gradually that it's southern edge. What about you? Anybody observing these last couple of days care to comment on what they are seeing in Utopia? (That's just fun to say) 

 

I saw some north polar area limb brightening/clouds. Kept it simple tonight with no filters, so I didn't investigate this further.

 

As my session ended, I was picking up a darker area coming out of the terminator. I'll have to check what that might be. Imagination? lol.gif 


  • jrkirkham, csphere.d and Diomedes like this

#2 JOEinCO

JOEinCO

    Apollo

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1,090
  • Joined: 28 Sep 2017
  • Loc: Colorado Front Range

Posted 07 August 2020 - 05:33 PM

Here is the previous May/June/July thread if anyone is interested:

https://www.cloudyni...yjunejuly-2020/



#3 Diomedes

Diomedes

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 504
  • Joined: 04 Feb 2020
  • Loc: New York City

Posted 07 August 2020 - 05:38 PM

Looking forward to seeing Mars through a telescope for the first time and contributing to this thread !


  • epee and csphere.d like this

#4 epee

epee

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,091
  • Joined: 30 Nov 2006
  • Loc: Suh-van-nuh, Jaw-juh

Posted 07 August 2020 - 08:21 PM

Looking forward to seeing Mars through a telescope for the first time and contributing to this thread !

I'd like to direct you to the Filter Thread as Mars needs/responds to filters more than any other planet.

https://www.cloudyni...ilter-shootout/


  • Diomedes likes this

#5 Diomedes

Diomedes

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 504
  • Joined: 04 Feb 2020
  • Loc: New York City

Posted 07 August 2020 - 08:28 PM

I'd like to direct you to the Filter Thread as Mars needs/responds to filters more than any other planet.

https://www.cloudyni...ilter-shootout/

Thanks, I have been following the thread. I got my filters ready grin.gif


  • epee likes this

#6 Dave Mitsky

Dave Mitsky

    ISS

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 93,073
  • Joined: 08 Apr 2002
  • Loc: PA, USA, Planet Earth

Posted 07 August 2020 - 10:14 PM

Here's the section on Mars from the August Celestial Calendar.

 

Mars rises two hours after sunset by the end of August. The Red Planet brightens from magnitude -1.1 to magnitude -1.8 and increases in angular diameter from 14.6 arc seconds to 18.7 arc seconds. Mars is at perihelion on August 3rd. An impressive lunar conjunction takes place on August 9th, when the waning gibbous Moon passes about one degree to the south of Mars.


  • Diomedes likes this

#7 JOEinCO

JOEinCO

    Apollo

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1,090
  • Joined: 28 Sep 2017
  • Loc: Colorado Front Range

Posted 08 August 2020 - 06:33 AM

August 8, 2020 :: 3:30-4:00am MDT/0930-1000 UT

150mm f/10 @ 140X to 190X range with zoom

Seeing 1/5 bawling.gif 

Mars Apparent Diameter 15.5" - Distance 56,400,000 miles

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

 

Terrible seeing tonight. Even with more aperture, the sky was too wiggly to give more resolution than last night with the 80mm.

 

SPC was there...yep. Utopia was there...yep. But much softer and lower contrast than last night. I gave it 30 minutes but things didn't improve, so I went to the Pleiades and starhopped in the cluster at 250X. Light show was pretty good. waytogo.gif 


  • csphere.d likes this

#8 Rutilus

Rutilus

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,692
  • Joined: 17 Dec 2010

Posted 08 August 2020 - 07:02 AM

I've managed two observations so far this month from my location in Europe. 

The features so far appear more washed out than in previous years (dust ?). 

Observations made with my 150mm f/8 achromat refractor with magnifications from 150 - 250x.

Attached Thumbnails

  • Mars-04-07-cn.jpg

  • Rollo, payner, Cames and 9 others like this

#9 csphere.d

csphere.d

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 102
  • Joined: 29 Oct 2018
  • Loc: Chandler, AZ 33*N, 112*W

Posted 08 August 2020 - 09:13 AM

August 8, 2020.  2:30-3:30am MST (930-1030 UT)  102mm f/7 refractor.  Seeing was good this morning but the bright moon washed out some of the color of Mars.  Contrast was decent at 204x as the darker albedo features stood out against the pale orangeish gibbous disk. 

 

The SPC is still very prominent and I could just make out the dark edge; however, the SPC is indeed shrinking!  I remember how much the SPC was the dominate feature back in early May, as it really popped as a brilliant white oval against the bright orange disk.

 

Good morning in Arizona!


  • JOEinCO likes this

#10 Special Ed

Special Ed

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 10,920
  • Joined: 18 May 2003
  • Loc: Greenbrier County, WV 38N, 80W

Posted 08 August 2020 - 04:00 PM

Interesting to read these reports and see the sketches by Rutilus.  Mars is increasing in angular diameter rapidly, even as the SPC shrinks.

 

...Utopia was prominent just north of the SPC in moments of better seeing. To me it had a slightly triangular northern edge that faded off much more gradually that it's southern edge. What about you? Anybody observing these last couple of days care to comment on what they are seeing in Utopia? (That's just fun to say) ...

Not sure what feature you're seeing here, Joe, but Utopia is in the northern hemisphere.  Have you tried looking at Mars Profiler or WinJUPOS simulations for the UT time you posted?



#11 JOEinCO

JOEinCO

    Apollo

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1,090
  • Joined: 28 Sep 2017
  • Loc: Colorado Front Range

Posted 09 August 2020 - 03:30 AM

......Not sure what feature you're seeing here, Joe, but Utopia is in the northern hemisphere.......

Yeah... Thanks for the correction. Not sure how I got twisted around. Looking at the Mars Profiler, perhaps the Mare Cimmerium/Mare Tyrrhenum area? In the mushy seeing it seemed close to the SPC, but looking at Rutilus' sketches, he drew the darker albedo feature I saw.

 

I'm waiting for the scope to acclimate, and will investigate again. Mars and the Moon together in the same field at low power right now is wonderful. smile.gif 

 

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

 

EDIT: Yes, the greater separation from what I saw to the SPC is more obvious in this morning's slightly better seeing (2/5-to-2.5/5). I can only guess (hope?) the SPC and the albedo feature were mushy and appeared larger under last night's 1/5 seeing. I did look at the Mars Profiler yesterday after observing, and my mistake was amplified there because Utopia is drawn as a darkish, continuous streak below the white ice. Thanks for fixing me, Michael.


Edited by JOEinCO, 09 August 2020 - 04:38 AM.


#12 Special Ed

Special Ed

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 10,920
  • Joined: 18 May 2003
  • Loc: Greenbrier County, WV 38N, 80W

Posted 10 August 2020 - 09:56 AM

Glad to help, Joe.  You were smart to start observing Mars early so you could get familiar with the appearance and names of the various features.  I have to refresh my memory every apparition.  smile.gif

 

I made this observation this morning.  Mare Sirenum is preceding the central meridian (CM) and Mare Cimmerium is following.  I posted this report in the Sketching forum.

 

2020-08-10-0855-MR-CM173.jpg


  • Jim Davenport, payner, jrkirkham and 6 others like this

#13 JOEinCO

JOEinCO

    Apollo

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1,090
  • Joined: 28 Sep 2017
  • Loc: Colorado Front Range

Posted 14 August 2020 - 05:33 AM

August 14, 2020 :: 3:00-4:00am MDT/0900-1000 UT

80mm f/6 @ 143X and 204X

Seeing 3/5

Mars Apparent Diameter 16.3" - Distance 53,600,000 miles

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

 

Pretty darn steady morning by Colorado standards (Land of 1/5 and 2/5). Seeing was a sustained 3/5, with a few moments of 4/5 tossed in. Happy Joe. Even if the seeing had me wishing for more scope and more magnification tonight. grin.gif grin.gif 

 

Mare Sirenum was by far the prominent area, dominating the southern hemisphere north of the Cap. The SPC itself had wonderfully sharp edges. Every time I get one the these better mornings, the cap is clearly smaller (it can look a bit larger when softer seeing mushes things). I did sense a darker area (or darker orange) just off the Polar Cap. Then it faded to a "normal" Mars color before Sirenum began. From Sirenum towards the limb was also darker, I'm guessing the Solis Lacus area?

 

The northern hemisphere was fairly featureless. Any clouds or polar hood has seemed to have diminished, though I did pick up a little with a medium blue filter (but there's only so much I could do with my filters with 3" of aperture already pushed fairly far to 204X...that blue view was pretty dim). 

 

In the blink of an eye, things changed. OK...maybe a minute-long blink...but the seeing just nosedived that fast. 1/5. 0.5/5. I gave it 15-20 minutes to see if the good seeing would come back. Nope. Heartbroken... 

 

Great Mars morning anyway, even if it was cut short.


Edited by JOEinCO, 14 August 2020 - 05:39 AM.

  • Special Ed, csphere.d and Diomedes like this

#14 csphere.d

csphere.d

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 102
  • Joined: 29 Oct 2018
  • Loc: Chandler, AZ 33*N, 112*W

Posted 16 August 2020 - 12:48 PM

August 16, 2020, 0800-1100 UT; Mars at 16.6 arcsec.  The transparency was average at best, and the seeing was average to good.  I had the opportunity so I decided to set up both my 4" refractor and my 10" Dob.  

 

The 4" refractor provided some nice contrasted views of the red planet.  The gibbous disk was sharp and the SPC stood out as a distinct oval.  the color was pale orange to ruddy as I pushed the magnification.  The dark albedo features were not as pronounced in my 4" as they were say a month ago, but still very detectable; especially at 238x during spurts of good seeing.

 

Once acclimated, the 10" Dob put up some really nice views as well.  The image was obviously brighter, so I was able to push the magnification to 300x and to 343x on occasion as seeing allowed.  The Disk was well defined and a brighter pale orange.  In the 10", I noticed that the SPC appeared with a more irregular shape, rather than the oval shape I detected in the 4" frac.  As seeing improved, I could make out more of the dark albedo features; Mare Sirenum being the most prominent.  I was even able to detect some slight dark albedos in the northern hemisphere.

 

Great morning from my porch here in metro Phoenix!  waytogo.gif   


Edited by csphere.d, 16 August 2020 - 12:51 PM.

  • Special Ed and Ohmless like this

#15 epee

epee

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,091
  • Joined: 30 Nov 2006
  • Loc: Suh-van-nuh, Jaw-juh

Posted 17 August 2020 - 06:27 PM

Got out of bed at 4:00AM EDT. I had noticed how both Clear Sky Charts & Astrospheric predicted exceptional seeing for my location. The XT12 was freshly cleaned and collimated. I left it in the "Down Dog" position, rear cell elevated, and let the shop fan blow on the mirror throughout the night.

 

Upon waking I was greeted with an exceptionally lovely morning, less humid and hazy than has been typical this summer. Mars was quite high in my 31° Latitude sky.

 

I started with the 6.5mm Morpheus and the Baader Contrast Booster and as I began far out of focus was happy to see that everything seemed well centered and the out-of-focus image was still, no plate-full-of-worms appearance, so the fan had done its job.

 

Mars snapped into focus and the SPC was immediately apparent followed by very faint shadowy albedo markings; presumably Mares Erythraeum, Sinus & Sirenum. I do not recall noticing Mare Acidalium. The steadfastness of the image encouraged me to quickly replace the 6.5mm Morpheus with the 4.5mm and the view remained rock steady. I then proceeded to tinker with various filters; red, Magenta, salmon, #15 Yellow, Polarizer and 13% ND, alone and in combination in an effort to tease out more surface detail. None improved on the Contrast Booster and after about 45 minutes even the surface detail I had seemed to be slipping away, yet the SPC remained quite stark and hard edged.

 

The sky was so steady, I even dared to slip an x2 Barlow in front of the 4.5mm Morpheus, and while the image grew a little soft it was the difficulty tracking at x660 plus nearing the dreaded "Dob Hole" that required me drop back to the 4.5mm alone.

 

As a last chance to see more contrast on the surface I reverted to my "less glass" 10mm Circle-V Silvertop Plossl, Barlowed to 5mm and with the Contrast Booster. The image may indeed have been somewhat sharper, but again, tracking with the limited FOV became too much of a distraction and the 4.5 Morpheus returned.

 

As wonderfully steady as the the seeing was it was somewhat disappointing that the surface features do seem to be "washed out" by last opposition's dust storm, or else the dust is whipping up again. Even so, it was super to be under a good sky and seeing what I could of Mars so clearly.


  • Special Ed, Jim Davenport, payner and 4 others like this

#16 Rutilus

Rutilus

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,692
  • Joined: 17 Dec 2010

Posted 18 August 2020 - 07:12 AM

Was out early this morning with some excellent seeing conditions. I was observing double stars at 480x with my 6 inch

Achromat refractor and was getting text book views. The seeing was so good, I was able to go to powers of 960x.

 

Mars was visible, however it would be a couple of hours before I could turn the scope onto it. Spent two hours on the sofa

and woke up at 02:50 UT.  Went straight out to the observatory, to see that a thin layer of cloud was covering Mars.

Through the eyepiece, Mars was dimmer than usual (thanks to the cloud) but the seeing was good.

 

The SPC was bright but smaller than my previous observations. It was irregular in shape and had a couple of almost jet black

notches along its outer edge. Very striking against the brilliant white polar cap.

Mars was a yellowish sandy brown in color, unlike my previous observations when it was pinkish/red in color. Some whitish haze

was observed at the northern limb. Acidalia planitia  was seen extending down from the north. 

Markings in the southern half were darker.  Here is a drawing.  

p.s. By 03:20 UT the clouds had totally obscured Mars and the session came to an end.

Attached Thumbnails

  • Mars-18-08-2020-cn.jpg

Edited by Rutilus, 18 August 2020 - 07:14 AM.

  • Special Ed, Rick Runcie, payner and 7 others like this

#17 Rutilus

Rutilus

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,692
  • Joined: 17 Dec 2010

Posted 19 August 2020 - 04:15 AM

Out again this morning from 02:45 to 04:00UT. Seeing conditions were good.

I used magnifications from 192x up to 480x, along with the following filters.

Yellow, Orange, Baader contrast booster and semi-apo filters.

 

The yellow filter gave a view very similar to un-filtered view , details slightly easier to see.

Orange showed the darker parts of detail well.  Contrast booster was no different to standard yellow filter.

Semi-apo gave the disk of Mars a pinkish appearance and really made the white polar cap stand out

with an intense white.

 

Scope used was my 6 inch f/8 achromat refractor. Very enjoyable session. Here is the drawing.

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • Mars-19-08-2020-cn.jpg

  • Special Ed, payner, Cames and 3 others like this

#18 jayrome

jayrome

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 250
  • Joined: 24 Mar 2019
  • Loc: Ottawa, Canada

Posted 20 August 2020 - 12:50 AM

Just got in from observing Mars. The polar ice cap distinct, and various light and dark regions clearly visible below.


  • csphere.d likes this

#19 Ohmless

Ohmless

    Messenger

  • *****
  • Posts: 485
  • Joined: 05 Jun 2017
  • Loc: Houghton Lake, Michigan USA

Posted 20 August 2020 - 02:46 AM

Was clear for the last couple nights but I didn't observe due to my feet and hips hurting.  Tonight was another story and I was clouded out.  Doh!



#20 Diomedes

Diomedes

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 504
  • Joined: 04 Feb 2020
  • Loc: New York City

Posted 20 August 2020 - 08:58 AM

I saw mars for the first time last night on my birthday!!!  The red with the “dark” sky on the background was mesmerizing.  I was observing with the 120ST at 244X and Mars still looked fairly small.  I could not make out a lot of details since it was still fairly low in the sky at the time of my observation at about 35 degrees in altitude. The polar ice cap was about the only thing I was able to clearly distinguish, it popped out out an icy white surrounded by scarlet.


  • epee, Jaimo! and csphere.d like this

#21 Bree

Bree

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • Posts: 31
  • Joined: 19 Aug 2020
  • Loc: SE Ohio

Posted 20 August 2020 - 11:15 AM

I saw Mars for the first time a couple weeks ago with my reflector resurrection project.  I was still testing and it hadn't been collomniezed yet, so it was a little fuzzy.  But hey, at least I got it, which is more than I can say for my refactor.  Although there is a high degree of probability that the problems I had getting Mars with the refactor was a product of junk sticks and head/mount.


  • Diomedes likes this

#22 csphere.d

csphere.d

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 102
  • Joined: 29 Oct 2018
  • Loc: Chandler, AZ 33*N, 112*W

Posted 20 August 2020 - 06:17 PM

I saw mars for the first time last night on my birthday!!!  The red with the “dark” sky on the background was mesmerizing.  I was observing with the 120ST at 244X and Mars still looked fairly small.  I could not make out a lot of details since it was still fairly low in the sky at the time of my observation at about 35 degrees in altitude. The polar ice cap was about the only thing I was able to clearly distinguish, it popped out out an icy white surrounded by scarlet.

I have noticed from your other posts that you used the Baader Contrast Booster.  What are your thoughts, did it help?  

 

Also, the details should come if you wait until Mars gets a little higher, say 45 degrees plus.  How would you describe the seeing?

 

Happy birthday, by the way!


  • Diomedes likes this

#23 Diomedes

Diomedes

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 504
  • Joined: 04 Feb 2020
  • Loc: New York City

Posted 20 August 2020 - 08:13 PM

I have noticed from your other posts that you used the Baader Contrast Booster.  What are your thoughts, did it help?  

 

Also, the details should come if you wait until Mars gets a little higher, say 45 degrees plus.  How would you describe the seeing?

 

Happy birthday, by the way!

Hey Csphere thank you ! I got the filter a couple of weeks ago but it’s been mostly cloudy so I haven’t had a chance to test it properly.  My impression so far is that it helped with the dimming and contrast when I observed mars las night. I was also surprised how well it worked as a light pollution filter. It dimmed the background but not too much like other filters do.  It also did not change the color of the stars which is nice. 
 

Expect a full report on the filter thread once I have some time to test more thoroughly with Jupiter.


  • JOEinCO and csphere.d like this

#24 JOEinCO

JOEinCO

    Apollo

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1,090
  • Joined: 28 Sep 2017
  • Loc: Colorado Front Range

Posted 21 August 2020 - 04:43 AM

August 21, 2020 :: 2:00-3:15am MDT/0800-0915 UT

200mm f/10 @ 185X and 230X

Seeing 2/5-3.5

Mars Apparent Diameter 17.3" - Distance 50,571,000 miles

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

 

Another nice night with great seeing for my normally turbulent location. Good, solid 3/5 for most of my first hour. Decided on the C8 for tonight, so my timing was good. Usually when I go up in aperture AstroMurphy enacts his Law. lol.gif 

 

View was sharp with a well-defined SPC first catching my eye. Mars is 90% illuminated now, and the gibbous phase is still obvious. Started at 185X with that sharp view, and after about 10 minutes I got greedy with 300X. The moments that could handle that were truly moments, so I backed off to 230X. In the end, the smaller, sharper 185X view was best. A repeat of the common lesson that the smaller, sharper planet offers more useful detail than the larger, softer one.

 

The large albedo feature north of the SPC would gain definition when the seeing was it's best: Mare Erythraeum and Aurorae Sinus had a definite angled appearance, going from the limb towards the north and the terminator as it crossed the southern part of Mars. The orange void of Argyre separated it nicely from the polar cap.

 

In the north, the area of Mare Acidaleum was fairly absent of detail. It is moving toward the limb at my viewing time and the lack of much darkening might be due to that. Tharsis is coming into view, so that could also explain the somewhat plain northern hemisphere. No filters tonight, but I did detect a little remaining NPH or limb brightening.

 

Coffee's done. I'm heading back out.... grin.gif 


Edited by JOEinCO, 21 August 2020 - 12:41 PM.

  • Special Ed, Jim Davenport, csphere.d and 1 other like this

#25 JOEinCO

JOEinCO

    Apollo

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 1,090
  • Joined: 28 Sep 2017
  • Loc: Colorado Front Range

Posted 21 August 2020 - 04:51 AM

Oh...and Happy Belated Birthday Mr. Diomedes.

 

A First Time Planet Viewing can only happen 7 times, so how serendipitous that one of them fell on your birthday! 

 

Try backing off on the magnification a little next time. It's human nature to reach for the highest fruit - I still do it; see my previous post. But a big part of observing is the fact that the smaller but sharper Mars/Jupiter/Saturn beats the larger yet softer versions. Remember... The eye needs training. Try dialing it back to about 175X for a spell next time.


  • csphere.d and Diomedes like this


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics