Good evening everyone,
I hope this post finds you and those close to you well.
As some of you know I was keen to make the most of tonight's clear skies to see could I spot the dust storm on Mars. Unfortunately, I found it quite difficult to pick it out, but that did not stop me from sketching the 'Red' Planet again.
This is my second attempt at it, and I tried a different technique tonight. Before going out, I used a compass and pencil to draw several circles on a page. I shaded the circle in using a 3B pencil, and then smudged the graphite using a blending stump. Then at the eyepiece I added the shadings that I observed using a 2B pencil, and I recorded where the South Polar Cap (SPC), and the North Polar Hood (NPH) were positioned.
Once in inside I used an eraser, and eraser shield to create the SPC and NPH. And I used the blending stump again to smudge the dark markings that I made at the eyepiece. I then scanned the image into GIMP, and colourized the planet.
I found this a much better approach than my previous attempt when I simply added dark markings to a white circle. Needless to say, I'll use the new technique going forward.
In terms of the observation itself, I found Mars to be smaller than my previous viewing (5th November). The SPC and NPH seemed smaller too. Consequently, I had to work much harder to identify discernable markings on Mars tonight. I felt Sirenum showed most contrast against a rather yellow/white(ish) planet this evening, and when comparing my sketch against a Mars Map on 'StarryNight 7' I believe I may have observed Olympus Mons - could this be right though?
Other details from tonight session include:
Location: Dundrum, Dublin - Bortle 8
Instrument: f/5 250mm Newtonian Reflector on a Dobsonian base
Time: 19:55 - 21:12 UT
Magnification: 277X; and 416X.
As always many thanks for taking the time to read the above, and your comments and feedback are always welcomed. Most importantly, very many thanks to all those who have submitted sketches on Mars over the past while. Your sketches and reports really helped me to make the most of tonight's session. Also, a special thanks to Paul for the encouragement to get there and draw the Planet tonight - it really is a wonderful experience, and it certainly makes you look harder at what you see.
Clear skies to all,