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Mars - August/September 2020

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#101 Ohmless

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 02:50 AM

Tonight I had another opportunity to observe Mars between 2:30-3:30am(6:30-7:30 UT) with the 6" f/5 reflector, binoviewer, yellow-green filter, and the Meade HD-60s at 231x magnification.

 

Seeing was more challenging this time, but was still able at times to see the SPC(tiny), Mare Sirenum(near meridian), Mare Cimmerium(toward the side), along with the NPH(unchanged) and some of the dark features around Elysium(Trivium Charontis and Phlegra.)  I am pretty certain that the desert area I saw on my last excursion was Elysium now.  I also saw somewhat of a darkening toward the edge of the SPC that I don't see on my map(mappa dell'Unione Astrophili Italiani drawn by Frassati and Tanga) unless it was either an optical effect due to the contrast or it was the mottled area between the SPC and Mare Sirenum.  It was difficult to ascertain due to the seeing being worse tonight.  Some other options that the darkness could have been were Palinuri or Thyle I, but I didn't know what those were until I came inside and looked at another Mars map.  I'll put that map(Damien Peach's) on my phone for the next session.

 

Link to the map I have used during the last 4 oppositions:

http://pianeti.uai.i..._e_nomenclatura

 

Link to Damien Peach's Mars map:

http://www.damianpea...5dp_labeled.jpg


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#102 Frisky

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 03:55 AM

Mars was at its best tonight! Interesting, as smoke from the western fires could be seen and smelled here, about 1,500 miles away! The same thing happened last year from the Canadian fires. Smoke "clouds" were heavy in the sky but just gave Mars a redder coloration.

 

Joe


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#103 csphere.d

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 04:45 AM

9-20-20: Phoenix, AZ, 10:30-1:30 am local time (0530-0830 UT)  The seeing was average for the first hour but later improved.  This along with Mars gaining altitude made for some outstanding views after midnight.

 

I started with my 4 refractor at 178x and I was able to see Mare Erythraeum and what I believe to be Mare Acidolium as they were making the slow roll towards the terminator.  The South Polar Cap (SPC) was a small oval button, dull white in color.  I pushed the magnification to 204x and the view held up nicely as the dark albedo features were contrasted against the pale orange disk.  At this point, Mare Sirenum was coming into view as the seeing began to improve.  I tried bumping my 4" to 238x but my floaters were very problematic this time out.  So I switched to my 10" Dob that I had set up earlier and was fully acclimated.

 

Wow!  The extra aperture really brought out the details!  With the 10" at 240x, things really began to pop.  The very small SPC was a brilliant white irregular shaped oval that had a dark edging to it.  At times, I could detect what looked like a small rift in the SPC.  Mare Sirenum had a very distinct flat backwards "S" shape to it and at times I could detect subtle jagged edges.  The disk was a brighter pale orange and the 97% gibbous phase was very pronounced.  Brightening along the following limb was easily detected and the North Polar Hood (NPH) showed haze brightening as well.  I tried pushing the magnification to 300x but the seeing wouldn't really support it.  No matter, I was getting outstanding views and details at 240x!

 

Great late night/early morning here from my porch in metro Phoenix!  waytogo.gif


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#104 Abhat

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 06:21 AM

That is a great report Scott. Looks like you saw lot of details. Also did you use any filters?

 

For me extra aperture had apposite effect. I tried viewing Mars using my 8" Dob instead of ED100 which I usually use for Mars . 8" did not work out well. Seeing was not great and Mars was so bright that I could not see lot of details even at 300X. Tried lower mags to counter seeing but brightness was too blinding.

 

Badder Moon and Sky glow had zero effect on Mars. After applying my favorite #21 filter it was lot better. Whenever seeing stabilized I could see the dark features but shapes were not very distinct. I could definitely see a tiny southern polar cap.


Edited by Abhat, 20 September 2020 - 06:50 AM.

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#105 JeremysArt

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 03:42 PM

20200920_163733.jpg

 

Here's my first attempt at an observation sketch. I figure, I don't have the setup to take pictures of what I see, but I can at least draw it!
Mars as seen through my scope, as well as a "corrected" sketch with proper detail. From my perspective at the present time, we have the side with Valles Marineris and Olympus Mons facing us.

 

Telescope is Orion XT10i f/4.7 dobsonian reflector, Mead 5000 series 5.5mm 82* UWA

 

Observation was from southeast Michigan, approximately 2:50am, appeared about the size of a hearing aid battery. I have been able to clearly make out the southern ice cap, and valles marineris. Not 100% I'm confident that I know what the other feature is near it, but it kind of looks like a winking emoji with a white spot on top of its head haha.


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#106 csphere.d

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 03:57 PM

That is a great report Scott. Looks like you saw lot of details. Also did you use any filters?

 

For me extra aperture had apposite effect. I tried viewing Mars using my 8" Dob instead of ED100 which I usually use for Mars . 8" did not work out well. Seeing was not great and Mars was so bright that I could not see lot of details even at 300X. Tried lower mags to counter seeing but brightness was too blinding.

 

Badder Moon and Sky glow had zero effect on Mars. After applying my favorite #21 filter it was lot better. Whenever seeing stabilized I could see the dark features but shapes were not very distinct. I could definitely see a tiny southern polar cap.

Thanks Abhat!

 

Personally, I do not use filters as I prefer a more natural color.  I feel that the best way to control the brightness of Mars is with higher magnification.  But the seeing doesn't always allow for higher magnification so I think that is where filters can be very useful.  

 

240x seemed to be the sweet spot last night for Mars with the seeing that I had.  I usually get good results with my 102mm f/7 at higher magnifications, but last night my floaters would not tolerate sub 0.5 mm exit pupils.  So that is where the larger aperture really helped.  I easily got to 240x in the Dob while keeping the exit pupil close to 1mm.  Generally speaking, I think the best planetary viewing is at exit pupils between 1mm and 0.5mm.  Exit pupil = eyepiece focal length divided by telescope focal ratio.

 

Seeing is always key.  But equally important, when using a Dob for planets, is collimation and acclimation.  I always try to set my Dob out a couple hours before use so it fully adjusts to ambient temperature.  I also make sure it is well collimated and I try to spot check it during the night.  Dobs can be somewhat fickle and certainly require more time to set up, but the views can make it well worth it.  I will probably still use my refractor for the majority of my Mars viewing mostly because of the pure convenience.  smile.gif        


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#107 Abhat

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 05:10 PM

I had left the Dob outside all night under the telegizmo cover after I had concluded watching Jupiter shadow transit and some DSOs. It was well cooled and its collimated. It was the seeing that was bad. Should have checked Clearsky chart it before going to bed and waking up at 3 AM. You are right about the floaters. I had that issue on Mars when using the 100 ED, that is why I tried using the Dob. Bad timing I guess. I am sure I will get several chances again under better seeing conditions.


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#108 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 05:48 PM

I had some fine views of Mars on Saturday morning through the ASH 17" f/15 classical Cassegrain at the Naylor Observatory.  I used magnifications ranging from 162 to 324x and orange, magenta, and blue color filters.  The views with a 26mm Meade Series 400 Super Plössl (249x) and a CCM30 magenta color filter were quite good at times.

 

The seeing wasn't as good this morning.  I was hoping to see Solis Lacus, the Eye of Mars, but it just wasn't steady enough, even with the scope stopped down to 12 inches and using a maximum magnification of 202x.


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#109 Ohmless

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Posted 21 September 2020 - 01:30 AM

Obs report for between 11:30PM-12:30AM(3:30-4:30UT) due to incoming clouds.

 

Equipment: 6" f/5 reflector, #21, #11, binoviewer with 2x OCA, and my 6.5mm HD-60 pair at 231x.

 

Altitude was give or take 30 degrees for tonight's observation.  Winds and the lower altitude weakened the detail.  None-the-less, was able to get some splendid views of Solis Lacus and adjacent bright areas around its perimeter.  This was my first observation of Solis Lacus this year so I was pretty stoked.  Most of the southern hemisphere appeared to have a blotchy brown appearance from maria.  I can reliably say that I was able to see Vallis Marinaris as I did see the surrounding dark patches all around the clearing circling Solis Lacus(partly formed by Vallis Marinaris.)  The SPC looks unchanged in my modest sized scope and the NPH appears the same as well.  No detail could be ascertained in the Tharsis region.


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#110 NorthernlatAK

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Posted 21 September 2020 - 01:03 PM

NPH... Neil Patrick Harris to non-astronomers...

#111 Rutilus

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Posted 22 September 2020 - 08:46 AM

My last three most recent observations of Mars. The morning of of the 18 and 19th was poor to average seeing 

conditions.

This morning the seeing was average to good. I had good views of Meridiani and Sabaeus.

Margaritifer was seen extending upwards towards the north. Mare Erythraeum was visible as a large arching feature,

while mottling was visible in the Noachis region. The SPC, while small was very easy to see. Whitish haze was visible

at the northern polar hood region and running down the side of the following limb.

Filters used on all three observations were #12,#21,#25 and 80A.

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • Mars-18-09-2020-cn.jpg
  • Mars-19-09-2020-cn.jpg
  • Mars-22-09-2020-cn.jpg

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#112 payner

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Posted 22 September 2020 - 08:52 AM

Really great renderings of your Mars observations, Rutilus. Your middle drawing shows what I was seen the night of 9/19-20.

 

Regards,


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#113 Rutilus

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Posted 22 September 2020 - 08:59 AM

Many thanks.  Mars is sure looking big and bright now. 



#114 Special Ed

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Posted 22 September 2020 - 04:02 PM

Nice set of sketches, Rutilus.  like-button.jpg

 

I was out this morning looking at Mars, too.  It's the first time I've seen Mars in two weeks and in that time Mars has increased in angular diameter considerably.  Also since my last session the weather has turned much cooler--this morning was 40F/4C--appropriate the the first day of fall I guess.

 

Seeing was good--I went to 355x and then up to 391x but the higher magnification was a little too soft and lessened the contrast so I went back to 355x for the observation and sketch.

 

The center of Solis Lacus and all of Mare Sirenum were very dark and prominent.  The SPC was small but bright and easy to see from 163x up.  Bluish clouds and haze extended from the northern limb up the preceding limb and out over part of Solis Lacus.  The following limb had a bright arc that sometimes looked yellowish.  Here's the sketch:

 

20200-09-22-0712-MR-CM112.jpg


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#115 Ohmless

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 02:26 AM

challenging night of observing here in northern michigan.  seeing 2/5, good transparency. 12:00-1:00AM EST(4:00-5:00 UT.)

 

At 231x magnification using my usual set up I was able to see some detail but I sure had to wait a long time between periods of bad seeing.  Solis Lacus was along the meridian and Mare Acidalium along with Mare Erythraeum were visible but didn't reveal a great deal of detail.  The SPC was compact but present and easily observed.  The NPH looked darker this time and I couldn't see detail in its cloud features.

 

Hoping for more stabile skies for the remainder of this opposition.


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#116 jmccown

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Posted 24 September 2020 - 10:55 AM

I got the best views of Mars this morning that I have seen since the 1980s during my Newtonian days.

 

I observed at about 9:00 - 10:00 UT with my AT80ED using 140X. What I saw was very close to the photo in the middle of Special Ed's post, but not as detailed. Mare Sirenum and Solis Lacus were visible, as were the eastern ends of Mare Alcidalium and Aurorae Sinus. The south polar cap was very bright and visible, albeit small.

 

I could also see the clouds and haze over the north pole and down both the preceding and following limbs. 

 

I'm thrilled that I can see this much detail with such a small scope. I'm going to give it the acid test on Mercury's evening apparition next week. I read somewhere that Patrick Moore claimed he could see the Solitudo Criophori with a 3 inch refractor.


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#117 Special Ed

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Posted Yesterday, 08:36 PM

...I observed at about 9:00 - 10:00 UT with my AT80ED using 140X. What I saw was very close to the photo in the middle of Special Ed's post, but not as detailed. Mare Sirenum and Solis Lacus were visible, as were the eastern ends of Mare Alcidalium and Aurorae Sinus. The south polar cap was very bright and visible, albeit small...

 

 

That's not a photo, it's a simulation and somewhat out of date because dust storms have altered the appearance of the albedo features to a degree.

 

It makes sense that you would see more of M. Acidalium and Aurorae Sinus because Mars's slightly longer rotation period (24.6 hours) means that if you observe Mars about the same time each day it will appear to rotate backwards.


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#118 Ohmless

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Posted Today, 02:36 AM

another obs report for 2:30-3:30 am est(6:30-7:30 UT) using the 6" reflector with the same binoviewer setup for 231x.  Transparency was below average according to astrospheric, but the seeing was rock steady.

 

Solis Lacus had a bullseye appearance while it was at meridian and Mare Erythraeum was to its side.  I saw many areas where Mare Erythraeum appeared to stick out so it had a spider-like appearance if it had a big body and short legs.  The biggest visible were Aurorae Sinus and Delphini Portus(identified afterwards).  Mare Acidalium was toward the edge and not entirely visible.  It was significantly less dark than the disc details on the southern hemisphere.  The SPC appeared brilliantly while the NPH was reduced in size with a dull whitish appearance.  I wasn't able to ascertain any clouds in Tharsis.


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