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!