Is anyone having any success observing Deimos and Phobos this season?
For one reason or another I just got my first look through the 32” last night at Mars for this year. Started of with the 10 Ethos for 310x. It was fine, but not my usual way to observe and enjoy the planets. So I slipped in the Denk bino and 18 Tak Abbes for 344x. Now, that was much better.
Spent quite some time enjoying Mars and soaking up all the detail. I knew where Deimos was, and it was ideally placed near maximum elongation from Mars. But I couldn’t see it. So I slowly inched Mars toward the edge of the field, and then just outside the field of view, and like switching on a light Deimos popped into view. It was a very bright and easy observation, and now when I moved Mars back into the field I could just see it through the glare.
Deimos is the easier moon to see, so start with that one and you need to either use an occulting bar eyepiece to block out the glare from Mars or sit it just outside the field of view like I did. Use simple glass eyepieces too if you have those available.
Phobos was ideally placed as it was diametrically opposite to Deimos, so I could use that as a guide to line up on. Initially I couldn’t see Phobos as it was still 90 minutes away from maximum elongation, so I spent the time looking at Mars, and every now and then I would move it out of the field of view and check again for Phobos. Typical of all these moons that are close to their planet and move fast, the session goes something like this. Nothing yet, nothing yet, nothing yet, oh there it is. And so it was with Phobos. Once it separated far enough from Mars to punch through the glare it was a relatively easy observation to see constantly.
So with one month to opposition the prime moon observing window is now. The smallest scope I’ve used to see them is a 12”, and I recall they were quite easy to see at opposition, even Phobos which is the tougher of the two. So the chance to see them in smaller scopes is very short, perhaps a week or two either side of opposition. I’m always thrilled to see the Martian moons, so don’t waste the opportunity.