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Mars - November/December 2020

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#1 JOEinCO

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Posted 01 November 2020 - 01:38 AM

Opposition month is behind us, but there's still plenty of good Mars observing to come. Post any and all Mars observations here! 

 

Here is the previous "October 2020" thread:

https://www.cloudyni...s-october-2020/

 

And before that the "August/September 2020" thread:

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

 

And the "May/June/July 2020" thread from before that:

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


Edited by JOEinCO, 01 November 2020 - 01:46 AM.

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#2 GDG

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Posted 01 November 2020 - 12:05 PM

I found last night that it is not too late to get some nice views of Mars using modest equipment.

 

After my Halloween activities were done, the moon and stars  looked bright and crisp so I set out for what I thought would be a quick "grab and go" Mars viewing session using a good 4 inch achromatic refractor, with Mars starting out at 45 degrees high and rising. I was not expecting much, just a quick look at the larger visible dark areas and the SPC if I could, with maybe a quick 30 minute session. It turned out to be a much better session; I spent 2 happy hours in the cold, returning home after the frost started to form on the outside of my telescope tube.

 

The seeing was better than average for me in northwest New Jersey (4/5).  I was able to use magnifications of 165x and 205x quite well, with 205x being the best - quite a surprise. That requires good seeing and a bright object, and I had both last night. As was my experience earlier in October with my 8 inch sct during the closest approach, I needed some filtering in order to see surface features well. For these I used (separately) a 25% ND filter, #23A red, and #56 green with good success. A blue filter was not useful for me. Dark patches such as Margaritifer Sinus and Aurorae Sinus were visible in all filters, as were the SPC and NPH. With a red filter the dark areas became more distinct, I could then see Niliacus Lacus albeit it stayed fuzzy, but the other dark areas showed some detail which would come and go, especially the "blotchy" dark patches towards the equator.  Focusing was critical for the fine detail - I was happy that I had added a dual speed Crayford focuser. The green filter was a particularly nice surprise, revealing quite clearly luminosity all along the eastern (preceding) limb as well as revealing a larger and more luminous NPH and SPC.

 

All in all it was an unexpectedly good "treat" for me on Halloween, with much better results in my modest 4 inch achromat than I had expected. Hopefully I can get out with the 8 inch sct later this week if conditions are good - there have been too many clouds and much rain here over the last three weeks!

 

I closed out the evening viewing the nearby full moon, which was showing the earliest signs of waning, leading to very good views of craters along the waning limb. Gauss looked quite sharp with good relief and interior detail. Overall, a wonderful viewing session. And yes, there is still time to get good views of Mars!


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#3 JOEinCO

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Posted 02 November 2020 - 05:03 AM

I got a good double-shot of Mars tonight. A run from 9-10pm Mountain time, and again just now from 1:30-2:30am. Last evening's seeing was much better, with near-constant 2/5 allowing 195X in a 4" refractor. Pretty good for the Colorado Front Range.

 

It was a nice, casual night and I didn't consult a map. No matching up the big, long names tonight. lol.gif 

 

In my evening session, the SPC was distinct and in the brief 3/5 moments was a sharp contrast to the orange "land" around it. At the other end, the NPH seemed fairly large. Just south of the NPH I detected a darker band. Front and center on the disc (so south of the Martian equator) was a pronounced albedo feature. Erythraeum? The two limbs had a hint of brightening, but nothing compared to the Hood.

 

My morning session just now was a bit softer despite high hopes when I first checked out stars naked eye (Mars was lower, though, than last night). More like 1/5 seeing with occasional moments of 2/5. Could still make out the white patch of the SPC, but it was never distinct like last night. Albedo features were muted, though it's always great to watch through cycles of better seeing. I love how a dark area on the surface "clears itself" and suddenly shows better edge definition, or subtle shading differences within. My mind roots for the seeing to keep going - to keep improving - "c'mon 3/5....you can do it...." - "got a 4/5 in ya??" laugh.gif 


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#4 JOEinCO

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Posted 02 November 2020 - 05:09 AM

Mars' diameter has just passed under 20 arc-seconds here at the start of November, BTW.

 

This morning, November 2nd, it's at 19.8", so still a very good size. Looking back, we started observing in the May/June/July 2020 thread at 7.5". We've got lots of observing left in this apparition.

 

Get out there! waytogo.gif 


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#5 michiel

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Posted 02 November 2020 - 05:48 PM

just had a quick mars observing session. despite a strong wind the seeing was much better than I expected. I used my 152mmF5.9 achro , which I had left outside some time to cool down. the big refractor has considerable CA and I found out that an orange filter hit the spot for reducing the blue haze and enhance contrast. I used a televue 3-6 mm zoom , best at 5mm giving 180x. during some moments I had really detailed views, not being a specialist, could not name them, but there was quite a lot of structure, thought I saw the south polar cap.... It was at the bottom using a zenit prism so i think it is real south. I still find that mars does not have a lot of contrast visually, and is a difficult object. Later I tried my old 80mm F6 scopos refractor which gave a surprisingly nice image, not much CA. If whether permits tomorrow i will try to use my small questar. I know when properly cooled down and with good seeing it can sometimes punch above its weight, but tonite I was too tired and lazy  to take it out and let it cool. 

This session stimulated me to buy a 125mm APO at which I am drooling for some time.... It should improve the views of mars but I must be quick, the red planet is already moving away from us.

good nite everybody

Michiel


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#6 davidc135

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Posted 03 November 2020 - 08:55 AM

PB031519a.jpg

 

20.00 UT on 2nd Nov with 8'' sct x 160. Seeing fairly good.

 

Main features inc. Syrtis major and sinus meridiani looking like a bowtie or butterfly. SPC faint and no sign of the NPH. Slightly darker albedo between Hellas and the SPC.

 

The B&L4000 at x100 showed the bowtie but that was all. It would be interesting to see what the 3.5'' Questar can reveal. My B&L is not bad but has around 1/4 wave SA which may make a difference.

 

I went out a few hours later and could see how the Martian atmosphere completely hid that part of Syrtis which had reached the limb but which was now invisible.

 

David


Edited by davidc135, 03 November 2020 - 09:01 AM.

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#7 jmccown

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Posted 03 November 2020 - 01:24 PM

This has been a great apparition of the god of war. But last night was a bust for me. Seeing was bad at 1:00 UT so I kept going back in the house and coming back to look again. Every time I tried, it got worse!



#8 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 03 November 2020 - 03:09 PM

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

As the Earth pulls away from the Mars, it fades from magnitude -2.1 to magnitude -1.1, decreases in angular size from 20.1 to 14.8 arc seconds, and changes in phase from 98% to 92% illumination. Mars continues to retrograde until it reaches its second stationary point on November 15th. The waxing gibbous Moon passes five degrees south of the Red Planet on November 25th. The next time that Mars will achieve an apparent diameter greater than 20.0 arc seconds will be in 2033. Articles on Mars appear on pages 44 to 47 of the October issue of Astronomy and pages 48 to 50 of the October 2020 issue of Sky & Telescope. See https://curtrenz.com/mars.html for more on the 2020-2021 Martian perihelic apparition. Click on https://skyandtelesc...ide-is-visible/ in order to determine what Martian surface features are visible.

https://www.cloudyni.../#entry10624401


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#9 michiel

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Posted 03 November 2020 - 05:31 PM

Just a quick mars session with my questar 3.5. It was clear but there was a lot of wind. Still the image was beautiful, and in some moments of good seeing many details were visible. Actually I made the sketch after having gone inside with a whiskey to warm me up. I am a poor sketcher and I must say that in moments of good seeing the image was definitely much better than my sketch, but here it is. One of these days I will take more time to make an accurate sketch. 

 

mars 3.11.20 (002).jpg


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#10 TiSaph

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Posted 03 November 2020 - 08:24 PM

I was back out again tonight with the Z8.  A lot of clouds are forecast for the next few days, so it's good to get observing in while I can!

 

I just received my Baader Contrast Booster from Eyepieces Etc (back in stock!!).  I agree with assessments that this is the most useful on Mars.  I was quite pleased to be able to pull out various albedo features where I later found to match real features using the Sky Safari map.  And, as always, it was a pleasure to see that bright polar cap.

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#11 George9

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Posted 04 November 2020 - 12:52 AM

Getting tougher. Smaller, lower in the sky, bigger cooldown needed. But still fun. 10" f/5 with 3.5mm Nagler6. Took a while before the southern cap appeared (in terms of cooldown).

 

George

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  • 2020-11-03 Mars 10 inch.jpg

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#12 E_Look

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Posted 04 November 2020 - 01:02 AM

attachicon.gifPB031519a.jpg

 

20.00 UT on 2nd Nov with 8'' sct x 160. Seeing fairly good.

 

Main features inc. Syrtis major and sinus meridiani looking like a bowtie or butterfly. SPC faint and no sign of the NPH. Slightly darker albedo between Hellas and the SPC.

 

The B&L4000 at x100 showed the bowtie but that was all. It would be interesting to see what the 3.5'' Questar can reveal. My B&L is not bad but has around 1/4 wave SA which may make a difference.

 

I went out a few hours later and could see how the Martian atmosphere completely hid that part of Syrtis which had reached the limb but which was now invisible.

 

David

Nice depiction.  You captured the essence of it!  My view at 167x-250x looked basically like that in my reflector.  So despite the bad seeing, my scope produced an "accurate" image!  I did see the darker sea(s) as one blotch in the middle; I could make out no other details as the image was just wavering and focus jumping all over the place.


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#13 Rutilus

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Posted 04 November 2020 - 08:19 AM

Observation from last night. Seeing was average to poor. The main features had a washed-out appearance.

Syrtis Major was heading towards the preceding limb with Sinus Sabaeus  and Meridiani  extending out towards

the following limb (looking like a set of wings). Hellas was very difficult to pick out, I could see the general outline but 

it basically blended into the rest of the planet. The SPC was easily seen at all times. The North polar hood looked

smaller compared to the other side of Mars.

Filters used were #12,#21#,#80A, Baader semi-apo and contrast booster. On the night the best views were had with the #21

orange and no filters. 

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  • Mars-03-11-2020-cn.jpg

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#14 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 04 November 2020 - 11:40 AM

My wife and I had a casual look at the waning gibbous Moon, Mars, and M42 with our smallest Dob, a 6" f/8 Orion SkyQuest XT6, at 150x late last night.  Mars was well to the west by then and the seeing was mediocre but we were able to vaguely make out the more prominent albedo features.

https://space.jpl.na...rite=1&showac=1

 

https://skyandtelesc...ide-is-visible/

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  • Mars Profiler November 4 AM.jpg

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#15 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 05 November 2020 - 01:25 AM

The seeing was variable but at times I had some good views of Mars tonight using the Naylor Observatory's 17" f/15 classical Cassegrain at 170, 232, 249, 259, and 324x.  I used 2" orange and blue filters at 259x and a CCM30 magenta filter at 232, 249, and 324x.  I stopped down the telescope to 12 inches for a time and then to 6 inches.  I hadn't used the 6" aperture mask in quite some time and I wasn't particularly impressed with the results tonight.  The best views were the filtered and unfiltered full aperture views at 249x.

 

The SPC was quite small but was readily visible.  Mare Acidalium, Nialacus Lacus, and Mare Erythraeum popped out from time to time.

https://skyandtelesc...ide-is-visible/

 

https://space.jpl.na...rite=1&showac=1
 

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  • Mars Profiler Direct View November 4 PM Screen Shot.jpg
  • Mars JPL Solar System Simulator November 5 UT.jpg

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#16 Mikoka

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Posted 06 November 2020 - 11:18 AM

Hallo,

I observed Mars at 03.11.202o with my Intes Micro Alter M715.

Bad seeing conditions an running clouds forced me to make a rapid scetch,

not so fine I normally use to do it.

 

Greetings  Michael

 

 

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#17 davidc135

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Posted 06 November 2020 - 06:22 PM

PB071525a.jpg

 

Earlier this evening, average seeing.  David


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#18 George9

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Posted 06 November 2020 - 10:22 PM

Here is tonight's view. 10" f/5, 3.5mm Delos.

 

George

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#19 E_Look

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Posted 07 November 2020 - 02:02 AM

Again, my own views agree with that of the sketch of davidc 135!

 

The only minor difference was the thin region by the pole I saw to be thinner, sometimes disappeared, but a bit more pronounced than that when visible.  The rest of it is rather similar to what I saw.

I suppose... this might largely be to the similarily in our apertures?  My telescope is a Newtonian, though.



#20 payner

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Posted 07 November 2020 - 12:17 PM

I was able to observe the red planet last night for the first time in about a week. I had good seeing (4/5) and observed from about 9:30 PM to 10:30 PM EST (02:30 to 03:30 UT). I used a 25 cm corrected DK, TV Mars Type B filter at 500x. The planet was at 19 arcsecs and 97 percent illuminated. It is interesting to note how quickly Mars and earth are now separating. Still great conditions and plenty of observing to go this apparition.

 

The most prominent albedo feature I saw was Sinus Meridani, followed by Sinus Sabacus, Syrtus Major and Aurorae Sinus. The SPC was as a dimple; I did not discern the NPH.


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#21 flt158

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Posted 07 November 2020 - 04:26 PM

Hallo,

I observed Mars at 03.11.202o with my Intes Micro Alter M715.

Bad seeing conditions an running clouds forced me to make a rapid scetch,

not so fine I normally use to do it.

 

Greetings  Michael

Hey! You got Syrtis Major, Mikoka

That's great. 

 

Aubrey. 



#22 flt158

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Posted 07 November 2020 - 04:30 PM

Observing with my William Optics 158 mm F/7 apochromatic refractor, my wife and I saw Syrtis Major, Mare Tyrrhenum, the South Polar Cap and Mare Serpentis at 280X.  

There was no sign of Hellas at all. 

 

Clear skies from Aubrey. 


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#23 E_Look

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Posted 08 November 2020 - 02:05 AM

Ah!  Mars was magnificent over New York tonight!

The seeing wasn't good, but that did not prevent my seeing as you did, Syrtis Major and Mare Tyrrhenum, and Mare Serpentis.  I couldn't make out any of the thinner features by the north pole, but I was elated I could see those.  And despite the less than satisfactory seeing, I was able to go up to 250x and still get a decent image in my eyepiece.  I had accidentally put in a shorter focal length eyepiece that yielded 313x, but the view was soft and more nebulous.

 

Later this evening, I went back to Mars and the view only eroded a little.  By then the planet had rotated enough that the surface features present were not as striking as that earlier tonight, but still nicely visible, despite the planet as a whole wavering.  There are those split seconds of relative stillness that occur very so often and they provided a little satisfaction, even though the features were not as contrasty as earlier.  I tried to go higher in power this time, but it still didn't work, at 288x, Barlowed and with a 13% Moon filter.  Backing down to 256x, also Barlowed and with same filter, it helped to bring out the surface features noticeably more, even if the view wasn't as nice as several hours earlier.

 

May your skies be clear AND still!


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#24 JOEinCO

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Posted 08 November 2020 - 06:27 AM

Had friends over for dinner last night and pointed a 5" refractor at Mars. Seeing was marginal, 1/5 with moments of 2/5. 

 

In the better moments I could make out the SPS (South Polar Speck lol.gif), but the group of Sinus Meridiani and friends was just a triangular shading with no separation of the "arms". Looked very Syrtis Major-ish, though Syrtis was well onto the limb and I did not detect any signs of it. Best views were at 142X, with a little time at 216X. 

 

It was interesting to show it to inexperienced people. With no ND or color filters, I simply asked everyone as they sat down to "give it a minute or two", and their eyes adjusted. Then I didn't feed them any detailed info. I'd tell them to look around the rim and tell me what they saw. Three out of four "saw a white dot at 9 o'clock", which is where the SPC was with my diagonal orientation. waytogo.gif  Everyone saw the triangular grey patch of the Meridiani area without prompting after that. The biggest "problem" was overcoming people's tendency to glance and then come off the eyepiece. When I got them to park themselves at the eyepiece for a few minutes straight, they all made comments like "oh, there's _____" and "I see a _____ area near ___ o'clock". A first lesson in Planetary Patience delivered!


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#25 csphere.d

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Posted 08 November 2020 - 06:55 AM

We are in a short run of cloudy weather here in Phoenix so decent views have been hard to come by this week.  Last night was clear but the seeing was truly poor.  I had a difficult time finding Mars sharp at any magnification.  However, I was still able to detect the SPC and an area of dark albedo features that ran together with no definition.

 

The good news is that Mars will continue to be well positioned in the evening sky for several weeks to come!  Now I am up early this morning to see if I can catch a glimpse of Mercury through the scattered clouds!  waytogo.gif


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