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Mars Viewing Expectations

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#1 android69

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 10:03 PM

I’m fairly new to astronomy and viewing. I have a Celestron 8” Evolution SCT which has been fun to view the sky’s with with my go to views being Saturn, Jupiter, The Moon, M31 and for the first time tonight Mars. I had limited time for viewing and Mars was maybe 20 degrees above the horizon with clear skies (finally) here in central Virginia. With me were a Plossl 15mm, 32mm and 40mm. While seeing the planet was interesting it was less than the wow factor I had when I first saw Jupiter and Saturn. What I observed with Mars was the following with all three eye pieces. There seemed to be a lot of CA. Detail was just about non-existent and all I could make out was a round object with color tones of peach. I did make out one small dot near Mars which may or may not have been one of its two moon. I’m not disappointed but really just curious if these are typical views for the equipment and conditions I had. I also had a view of M32 for the first time ever so that made up for Mars’ less than stellar showing.

Edited by android69, 20 September 2020 - 10:04 PM.


#2 JMP

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 10:19 PM

Frankly Mars is disappointing this year. Back in 2003 and 2005 I could see a lot of detail by eye. With your scope the best views will be when the planet is highest in the sky, about 3 AM now and 1 AM in mid October. The polar ice cap is a mere speck, and the darker patches are just a darker shade of peach. You should be able to use a 10mm eyepiece, 200x or even a 7mm eyepiece for about 300x. But this year the detail is very faint.

Jeff P

#3 Napp

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 10:20 PM

Moderator: this topic should be moved to the Beginners Forum or Solar System Observing Forum.

 

You were trying to observe Mars while still low in the sky which definitely hurt what you could see.  You are looking through too much of the earth’s atmosphere.  Wait until Mars is much higher in the sky. Pay attention to sky conditions.  Look at how much stars around it are twinkling.  The more twinkling the more turbulence in the the air the worse the seeing.  An 8 inch scope should show quite a bit of detail.  Mars is low contrast and quite bright.  You will need to stay at the eyepiece and allow your eye to adjust.  Patience is needed to catch those fleeting moments when the air gets really still and let’s Mars’ image crisp up.  With Mars high in the sky and with good seeing conditions your scope is capable of quite a bit of detail.


Edited by Napp, 20 September 2020 - 10:26 PM.


#4 Jkaiser3000

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Posted 20 September 2020 - 10:26 PM

I can’t really speak for the 8” of aperture but, I can say Mars is rather hard to observe visually as it lacks contrast, especially if you’re currently having issues with the California smoke. It’s best to use color filters to increase contrast (try red and blue first). Also, being so low to the horizon makes it prone to atmospheric dispersion, an ADC may improve that but, to be honest I would just wait for it to get higher, although that means staying up late or waking up real early smile.gif

and finally, You could try a 10mm eyepiece, if seeing allows you could even go to 5mm (or use a barlow).

 

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#5 RedLionNJ

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Posted 21 September 2020 - 10:53 AM

This post appears mis-placed. This is an IMAGING forum.

 

Not entirely sure where it DOES belong, though!



#6 Finalfantasykid

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Posted 21 September 2020 - 12:12 PM

For me mars you need to be patient with.  Mars is very small, even at opposition.  On an average night you might only get few seconds of really good seeing a minute, so just keep your eye on it and you will occasionally see things like polar caps.  I haven't checked out Mars yet this year (hopefully will be soon).  But last opposition I remember seeing the polar cap(s) on occasion, and I would describe it as looking like a white pixel which you could see every so often.  And colour filters may help, the blue will probably help with seeing the polar caps.



#7 android69

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Posted 22 September 2020 - 07:20 AM

My apologies for putting this post in the incorrect forum as was meant for solar system observing. Thanks for the replies. I’ll have to get out and give Mars another try with the given suggestions above.

#8 Finalfantasykid

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 03:07 PM

Got around to observing Mars last night, and actually got some pretty good views, despite it being a pretty windy night.  I was able to see some terrain detail and a polar cap fairly regularly.  I was using an eyepiece which gives me about 240X magnification, which seemed to work pretty well, and CA was minimal.  If my math is right, your 15mm will give you about 135X magnification.  Maybe try adding a barlow to that, or getting an eyepiece somewhere around 10mm which would give you about 200X.




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