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GRS Impressions and Planets 11/07/20

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#1 E_Look

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Posted 08 November 2020 - 03:01 AM

I was observing planets tonight (11/07) and when I got to Jupiter, I had to use my SkySafari app to check to see if the GRS was indeed on the visible side.

This was because it was kind of tough to perceive.  It has gotten much smaller than when I last saw it over a couple of years ago, and the color has faded to gray, it seems... well, at least to be the same color as the SEB, and none of the bands showed me any color tonight except gray.  I recall first seeing it as a darker pink, and in later seasons, it became a light salmon.  Seeing may have something to do with the bands apparent color, though I recall in the past being able to see the red-brown of the bands even in fairly turbulent air.

 

Anyway, on the GRS, it took a while, waiting out the wavering atmosphere to get glimpses of it lasting a couple to several seconds.  In the best moments, I could see it still had that rounded oval shape, though it looked like it sort of merged with the SEB.  I wasn't sure, but I thought at moments I also saw a slightly differently shaded core, which was quite small.  Even in those moments, the GRS and the bands showed no red or brown.

The seeing wasn't good enough for me to see any texture at the edges of the bands.

 

Alas, too bad!  I used to look forward to catching the Great Red Spot.  Here's hoping that it will become more prominent again soon.

 

I had thought to start with Jupiter, but as I was bringing my gear out to my backyard (I then make my way to the front, which for me provides better views in general), there was Mars shining bright in the eastern sky.  I have a GEM Newtonian, so it requires at least several minutes to disassemble at home, lug out, and reassemble which includes rough polar alignment, rough tube balancing and a bit to guessing plus trial and error to get the focuser to be at the right angle for me to sit down and view.  But Mars looked so good to the naked eye that I just popped the OTA onto the mount without doing anything else and just pointed it at Mars.  And my haste was justified- I got a glorious view of Mars, got to see Syrtis Major, and the Mare, Tyrhennum and Serpentis, off on its wings.  The image remained satisfactorily sharp up to 250x, which is unusual.  Normally, even under better skies, I can get 200x, max.  I went back to Mars several hours later, and it was still a very nice view, but nothing like it was earlier this evening.  After getting tired of viewing standing up, I detached the tube, and carried all the equipment to my driveway and set up there, where I restarted but this time with Jupiter.  That's when I made my GRS observations.  At low powers, Jupiter was breathtaking as it was flanked on each side by the Galilean moons; when focused sharply, it looks like jewels on a necklace.

 

Then I went to Saturn.  I wasn't able to spend as much total time with it as with the other planets, because at that time, some neighbors, separately and at different times, walked by, and of course I offered them a view and there was conversation.  Saturn is always a treat for people taking a first look.  One man really enjoyed it so much that during our conversation, he looked at it repeatedly and made sure he got one last look before leaving a short while later.  Well, the delay was not a problem tonight- only the planet itself was mainly visible.  Yeah, Titan showed, as it always does, Hyperion was visible intially and then a while later, I couldn't see it again.  Rhea continually blinked in and out.  The other moons, even ones I normally can glimpse, as Dione and Tethys, didn't show.  So, never mind Mimas and Enceladus then; they were definitely not visible.  Iapetus might have been visible, but it might have been out of the field of view; I didn't check for it either.

 

And then, Neptune.  I love it's mysterious, deep blue color.  The other reason why I always go for it is to see if I can catch Triton.  Not tonight.  It needs a little stiller air, and maybe a night when somehow, it could be just slightly darker.  But Neptune was focusable up to 460x.  On good nights, by that magnification, I should be able to begin to get averted glimpses of Triton, but the viewing conditions tonight, again were just a tad better than stinky.  After that I returned to Mars as I mentioned, and as mentioned, it was still pretty nice to look at, though not as nice as hours earlier.

 

I tried for Uranus, but couldn't find it.  This season, Uranus seems to be in a region of sky devoid of easily picked up stars or asterisms... which is my excuse, but it being also in a region of sky that made pointing my scope at it very awkward, making it hard to concentrate on searching for it.  Admittedly, again, if there were more (any) landmarks, it might have been more doable.  (I'll try again the next clear night out!)  My scope isn't capable of showing its moons, but I like catching it because also of its unique color.  And, it seems to my eye to have different colors at different powers and sky conditions.  I've seen it yellowish, lime green, and sort of teal more toward the blue end.  Yeah, I'll try this one again.


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#2 Sheol

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Posted 08 November 2020 - 07:38 PM

           I'll remember that the next time I'm out with a scope. Especially about the GRS's colors or lack of them. The bands on Jupiter usually look brown to me, in my 8 inch Dob, but I will let every one know what I see. I need to try for Neptune & Uranus this autumn. Being generally a DSO person I do not forget the things in our own back yard. Other than Mars, I have not shown the Solar system much love yet, I need to change this! Especially when my new telescope arrives.

 

       Clear Skies,

             Matt



#3 E_Look

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Posted 09 November 2020 - 12:32 AM

Hey, new scope coming?  Enjoy first light with it!

 

Yeah, the bands of Jupiter often look brown to me.  It's just this year so far (I had what, three or four outings, all within a week's time) many things look gray to me- Jupiter's bands, the GRS, the dark features on Mars, which used to have a greenish tinge to them.  And the subtle yellow shades of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn haven't come out at all so far.  Mars, I ascribe to its extra brightness this season, and with Jupiter, its moons and those of Saturn, I suspect it's due to their lowness of declination this season, especially Jupiter.  I barely get my scope set up and it's almost skimming the housetops.  At least Saturn still looks a golden, yellow-orange, albeit at mid to high powers; it's white with a yellow cast at low powers.  But both Mars and Saturn do look orangy to the naked eye in the night sky.



#4 E_Look

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Posted 09 November 2020 - 12:58 AM

11/08/20 Followup:

 

Mars was a treat again today, and again, mostly in the early evening.  What I saw in my eyepiece, at various powers from 40x all the way to 288x, with and without the 13% neutral density filter, corresponded to the image in Sky & Telescope's Mars Profiler tool.  Unfortunately, while still pleasantly visible, the dark regions were more nebulous, no matter what I tried.  It may just be that some of the mare and other features during early evening were more conspicuous or contrasty than those rotating into view later.

 

Jupiter was more satisfy today, as the seeing was a bit calmer in the early evening.  I could easily make out the two major bands, and what looks like a wispier, thinner north temperate band.  I have never been able to view either poles well on Jupiter.  It then quickly sank below the houseline, never even getting a chance to encounter the worse seeing to come.

 

The same about the brevity of time and quality of seeing could be said for Saturn.  I also got sidetracked by neighbors again during Saturn, as I offered them views; this is part of the joy of observing.  When I got back to Saturn, I was mildly, pleasantly surprised, as Rhea, Tethys/Dione were all were visible more often than last time.  Titan is generally always visible; I couldn't tell from the averted vision popping in and out whether I saw either or both.  Hyperion didn't show up tonight.  At a couple of moments, all of Rhea, Titan, and both of or either Dione or Tethys were visible.

 

Neptune, beautifully dark blue teal as usual.  But by the time I got to it, the seeing was worse, and "seeing" as how Saturn's moons were hard to spot, it made sense that Triton was a no show tonight also.  I did look for it for a while.  There was a little hint, unfortunately not even an averted gaze apparition, but there was some kind of faint "disturbance" or "different lookingness" in the general spot where it would have been if it were more easily visible.  Again, I gave a quick, halfhearted search for Uranus, but I gave up after a few moments.



#5 Sheol

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Posted 09 November 2020 - 07:23 PM

       Could it be smoke from any still ongoing fires in the west, or residual from the earlier fires? I had a weird view of the Double cluster ( I know, not Solar system, but I went to Mars afterward. lol) earlier last month that lacked color & brilliance. Either seeing ( which was pretty poor) effected my view or the smoke particles dimmed it.

 

     Matt.



#6 E_Look

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Posted 09 November 2020 - 11:51 PM

Sheol, where are you located?

I'm in New York, right on the edge of the Atlantic.  Will California smoke interfere with East Coast stargazing??

 

But your thought does seem to have some merit, as we all know how particulates and aerosols can affect large parts of the atmosphere.

Also, I know that light pollution has increased, but I mean, the sky does seem brighter this year.  Increased particulate content can and does scatter light.  It may be enough to make even East Coast astronomers swear.

 

Now, tonight, take Saturn for example, and I'm talking about the seeing: last night Hyperion was visible, tonight, not even a microsecond ghost of an appearance.  Titan seemed "duller".  Rhea disappered at times, and Dione and Tethys popped in only for instants, and then only by averted vision.  Now that can vary from night to night, but my impression is that this has been the average experience this week, so far.

I recall not so long ago that I could routinely see Tethys and Dione and when the rings were about edge on a few years back, Enceladus, well, wasn't easy, but you weren't surprised to see it, and Mimas would pop in and out.  It could just be the seeing and impending bad weather related (lack of) transparency.  And while the GRS has become less spectacular and noticeable, I was only able to catch it one night these last few days, and that I attribute to the the Spot itself or West Coast forest fires, but to bad New York seeing and humidity related low tranparency.  Eh... can't be sure of either.


Edited by E_Look, 10 November 2020 - 12:00 AM.


#7 Sheol

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Posted 11 November 2020 - 07:40 PM

            Back in October it would have, it should the smoke plume reaching clear across the US on the satellite radar pic. I live in North Central Texas, just south of the DFW Metroplex by about 30 miles, btw. It actually SMELLED like smoke a few days, it was that bad. Things have improved. Let me find out how much tonight. Going to do some DSO hunting, but will look at Mars & maybe Jupiter ( to help me try for Pluto! LOL) also.

 

 

      Clear Skies,

      Matt.


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