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Mars - Anyone else not seeing much?

Discussion in 'Observing Celestial Objects' started by Ed D, Aug 6, 2018.

Mars - Anyone else not seeing much?

Started by Ed D on Aug 6, 2018 at 8:47 PM

16 Replies 515 Views 0 Likes

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  1. Ed D

    Ed D Well-Known Member

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    So, in between the predominantly crappy weather down here in paradise, we are getting some rare good nights. Not great, mind you, but good. I have taken a few images of Mars and have gotten surprising detail, despite the dust storm.

    Visual observing has been another, entirely different matter. I have been fortunate to have used my 10" Dob a few times. Jupiter is stunning in the big scope, with lots of detail showing up, as has Saturn. However, point that same scope at Mars and all I see is an orange disk with a polar cap and limb brightening. Nothing else shows up. Tonight I used my 'Maserati', the TV-85 so affectionately named, and I was actually able to see very faint hints of dark areas. I have tried filters, a wide magnification range, and other ideas, yet I get nothing, nada, zip.

    You would think that observing from South Florida would be advantageous. I'm beginning to think it's actually hurting my chances at anything with the great Roman God of War. Right now, the only way for me to 'see' details is with my imaging equipment. Visual ain't cutting it. I had better luck with the past two or three apparitions.

    The flip side to this is that Mars looks so big and bright naked eye in the sky. To me it sort of looks like an amber version of Venus. The same brilliance that I think is hurting my telescopic observations makes for a very memorable naked eye view.

    Ed D
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2018
  2. Mak the Night

    Mak the Night Well-Known Member

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    I think it's the same for everyone Ed. I saw the tiny southern polar cap with my 90mm Mak very recently, which surprised me. Just before the dust storm really cut in I saw some features with my ST80. I could more or less get hints of surface features with my 150mm Newtonian around Opposition. The storm is dying down ... apparently lol.
     
  3. Dave In Vermont

    Dave In Vermont Well-Known Member

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    That it is dimishing may not mean much if you haven't been watching, following, etc. The planet-wide Dust-Storm needs a good reference-point from which to qualify this fact. so - here's a side-by-side by Reggie (Orion25) from back in June:

    ASTRONOMY - MARS COMPARISON 6-10 & 6-29-18 CAPTION.jpg

    So how does this compare to your view(s)? By-the-By, it was around late June - early July that the Dust-Storm became a fully globe-encircling 'Monster' that many figured would utterly ruin the show for all of us! The same thing (only worse!) happened during the Mars-Opposition of 2003, which was smidge closer Opposition - and the best one in 60,000 years!

    In this Opposition, you can see a little bit of surface-detail. In 2003 - NOTHING was visible. It was like a thick carpet was completely SEALED tight over every millimeter of the surface! So the question some are asking: "Whats' up with very near Oppositions and monster Dust-Storms covering Mars?"

    Keep asking. You're in very good company!
     
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  4. Orion25

    Orion25 Well-Known Member

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    I couldn't agree more, Ed. Visually, since early June, Mars has been what has been called "the great smooth peach orb". Bold and bright, but virtually featureless in the eyepiece, save a hint of polar albedo and a shadow of maria. I still struggle to see any detail through the eyepiece at 33 degrees north though I can see a little bit more as the weeks pass. Mid July was a total washout for visual. I believe Dave is on to something about gravitational forces stirring up dust on the Great Red One during these close perigees.
     
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  5. Ed D

    Ed D Well-Known Member

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    Compared to my views, I see more dark areas in the June 29 image than what I saw the past couple of nights. What I'm probably going to do is try to image Mars more.

    Ed D
     
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  6. aeajr

    aeajr Well-Known Member

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    Visually I am not seeing much detail in my XT8. Lots better two years ago. That dust storm has covered everything.
     
  7. Orion25

    Orion25 Well-Known Member

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    This is what I could see both visually and through imaging from opposition 2016:
    ASTRONOMY - MARS OPPOSITION (BARLOW) REGISTAX 5-21-16 SM.jpg
    Quite a difference!
     
  8. Orion25

    Orion25 Well-Known Member

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    Here's a better 2016:
    ASTRONOMY - MARS OPPOSITION REGISTAX MASK 5-21-16 SM.jpg
     
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  9. Dave In Vermont

    Dave In Vermont Well-Known Member

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    That looks like something that ol' Percy Lowell would have seen (perceived) 'Canals' in. It must have been the extraordinary & excellent contrast - I speculate - that draws me to this idea.

    Beautiful job! Well - must get down to New Jersey and blow-up some water-towers!

    Excelsior!
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2018
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  10. Orion25

    Orion25 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, Dave. I'm really appreciating the fantastic show Mars put on in 2016. If only I would have had the cameras I have now back then! :p
     
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  11. jgroub

    jgroub Well-Known Member

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    Chiming in late, but yeah, the level of visual detail is close to nil. If I use some averted imagination :)cool:), I think I can just barely make out some albedo features.
     
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  12. Ed D

    Ed D Well-Known Member

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    I wasn't into imaging during the 2014 and 2016 apparitions of Mars, but I did a lot of sketching. I recorded quite a lot of visible detail in my sketches. By looking at these sketches I can see the progression of the seasonal dynamics. Unfortunately, the most favorable apparitions for us are also the most likely to generate these planet-wide dust storms. The flip side to this is that it makes sketching the planet quite simple! :)

    Ed D
     
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  13. Dave In Vermont

    Dave In Vermont Well-Known Member

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    I do believe we're on the same 'page' there, Ed.

    I've been (still am) developing a theory based on gravitation-fields from the Mars-Earth proximity (as well as perihelion) being as a 'triggering-mechanism' for setting-off Dust-Storms on the Red One. This as the two great Mars-Oppositions' - 2003 being the closest in 60,000 years, 2018 'ringing-the-bell' as the 2nd. - were occluded under a planet-wide carpet of Martian Dust.

    This may well be an important phenomena and as such should be studied & recorded carefully and attentively for the collective future-generations. It may be a let-down and seem unfair to us "tube-jockeys," yet be invisibly holding a treasure-house of information. But we can't see it today as our knowledge of what to look for hasn't yet arrived at the necessary level to appreciate certain things that are right under our noses.

    Keep & keeping on -

    Dave



    "Counting Stars' by Candlelight, All are Dim but One is Bright - the Spiral-Light of Venus Rising First and Shining Best. From the Northwest-Corner of a Brand-New Crescent Moon Crickets and Cicada's Sing - a Rare and Different Tune..."

    -- Robert Hunter
     
  14. Dave In Vermont

    Dave In Vermont Well-Known Member

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    THIS JUST IN dept. -


    Found! The Largest Source of Dust on Mars.pdf


    The views & opinions expressed in my posts do not necessarily reflect the views & opinions of the poster, AstronomyConnect, or the entire 1st. grade class at the J. Danforth Quayle Elementary School in Passaic, New Jersey.
     

    Attached Files:

  15. Ed D

    Ed D Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the link, Dave. It is interesting information as we continue to learn more about this mysterious planet at an ever-accelerating pace.

    A few years ago I took a Planetary Sciences course with Mike Brown, Ph D, offered by Cal Tech, offered free to seniors. He covered so many interesting things, from spectral analysis and planet composition to planetary weather dynamics. In a nut shell, what we see is a normally occurring annual Martian weather cycle, although their year is approximately twice as long as ours. As Mars gets closer to the sun it heats up and causes evaporation of CO2, wind currents, and the migration of the aerosols from one pole to another. When Mars is closest to the sun the heating is much greater, hence the more intense dust storms.

    Jeff Beish, affiliated with ALPO, has contributed very good information on Mars oppositions for many years. Here is a link to his 2018 opposition article: LINK

    On our own planet we are experiencing increasing heat, water evaporation into the atmosphere, and the resulting storms, as anyone living in South Florida can attest to. Also, due to the atmospheric currents, lots of African dust is airborne and being carried to the tropical region, including South Florida. During the day these aerosols make can be seen, making the sky look grey and murky. At night I see the puke orange light pollution very strongly, this due to the double whammy of dust and moisture. We can thank mankind and global warming for this relatively recent tropical trend.

    As soon as I retire and relocate, one of the things I plan on pursuing is to take advantage of the educational opportunities offered seniors, mostly at no cost or ridiculously low fees.

    Ed D
     
  16. Ed D

    Ed D Well-Known Member

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    BTW, Dave, I'm pretty certain that the stronger gravitational effect due to the closer proximity of the planet does have an effect, as our moon and other of our planets do to varying effect. The question is not "if", but "how much". I do believe I have read about this somewhere, and that the effects are measurable. If anyone doubts this, think about how some of the outer planets were found mathematically, and now possibly "planet 9".

    Ed D
     
  17. Ed D

    Ed D Well-Known Member

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    Here is a crappy Mars taken 8/8/18. I was experimenting with my equipment and couldn't quite get it together. So, I simply captured at f/7, which yields a very small image. That's Syrtis Major and Hellas at around 8:00 O'Clock. Visually it was a wash.

    Ed D

    22_42_43 RegiStax Photo Studio.jpg
    Mars 8/8/2018 through TV-85 @ f/7, no IR cut.
    Scaled up to 800x600 from 320x240 capture size.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2018

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