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The Journey to Mars Begins...

Discussion in 'Observing Celestial Objects' started by Orion25, Jun 14, 2020.

The Journey to Mars Begins...

Started by Orion25 on Jun 14, 2020 at 5:28 AM

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  1. Orion25

    Orion25 Well-Known Member

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    Well, from an observational perspective, at least, lol! I got my first really good look at Mars last night, or should I say, early this morning at about 4 a.m. as the Red Planet cleared the big oak tree to my east. It was bold and bright, and rivaled the brilliant gas giants not far away to the south. I was using my 127mm Mak-Cass, or lil' Mak as I like to call it, which easily revealed the polar cap and a subtle dark region near it. The ruddy color was apparent without the telescope, and was enhanced through the eyepiece. I started out with a 9mm and then moved up to a 6mm. Simply gorgeous! Still a bit late (or early) for other than weekend observing right now, my excitement for Mars this year has definitely received a boost! I just hope there is no global dust storm this perigee!

    Regards,
    Reggie [​IMG]
     
  2. Mak the Night

    Mak the Night Well-Known Member

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    Sounds good Reggie. I saw it with my ED80 on the 15th of May. I couldn't see a polar cap but I was astounded that I could actually see detail at 160x. I could also see the phase. Plus it was first light with my (Barlowed) 7.5mm Tak' LE, which are supposed to be really good planetary EP's. Apparently they can flare a bit on the Moon though. I used a Baader Neodymium filter.

    whN7lxC.jpg

    Later I checked my software and the dark albedo features near the equator I saw were probably the Tyrrhena Terra and Terra Cimmeria regions.

    maes.jpg

    I got a bit over excited about this and got my Mars filters out!

    tPGk0um.png

    Then I just had to get a Mars manual!

    H74Sibw.jpg

    I'll have to set-up my EQ5 for my 150mm Newtonian soon. I'll definitely try and get my 127mm Mak out for Mars later though. If you're wondering what the video insert (bottom left) on the screenshot of Mars Atlas was ... it's this:



    I'm ready to go once the weather changes lol.

    Stay safe.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2020
  3. Orion25

    Orion25 Well-Known Member

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    Looks like you're ready to go for Mars, lol! Nice kit. I was pleasantly surprised to see the polar cap at my first real go at Mars this year. The Mak with my 9mm brought it in at about 171x and the 6mm yielded a tight 256x. I was so taken with the view that I didn't think to grab a filter. The darker region near the pole was likely Terra Cimmeria. I would have tried to image but I hadn't prepared and it was very, very late (or early). A nice prelude to many adventures with Mars over the next several months!

    BTW- Republica ROCKS!

    You stay safe, too, my friend :)
     
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  4. Mak the Night

    Mak the Night Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, 127mm Mak's and Republica both rock lol. I think I've developed early Mars fever!

    :)
     
  5. Orion25

    Orion25 Well-Known Member

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    That's one fever I don't mind having, lol! ;)
     
  6. Mak the Night

    Mak the Night Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, but remember to socially distance no less than 0.4219 Astronomical Units.
     
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  7. Orion25

    Orion25 Well-Known Member

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    Oh, darn it, forgot about that, lol.
     
  8. Mak the Night

    Mak the Night Well-Known Member

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    And don't forget to pump up the volume ...

     
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  9. Mak the Night

    Mak the Night Well-Known Member

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    9lb51oc.jpg

    I'm wild for Mars!

     
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  10. Mak the Night

    Mak the Night Well-Known Member

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    I got a session Sunday night/Monday morning with the ED72.

    dvDJFLX.jpg

    Mostly rich field, but at around 02:30 I could pretty easily see Saturn and Jupiter. The GRS could be seen near the eastern limb. I could see the Cassini Division in Saturn's rings and Titan just below the planet itself. So the seeing wasn't bad, a bit too much humidity for my liking, but decent enough. I got 140x with a 3mm DeLite.

    planum australe.jpg

    Around 02:45 I could see Mars rising. I didn't use a filter but the surface colour was very distinct and seemed a very rich red. Darker albedo features were pretty easily made out, as was the phase. The real surprise was a bright white feature in the Planum Australe area. By 03:00 it was virtually daylight. A lot of people have claimed to see the southern cap recently. What I saw was a bit large for the cap itself but was in the Planum Australe area, which is where the cap is. I think it's a very bright albedo area and also can attract bright clouds. Which is probably what I saw. I have seen the southern polar cap in the past and it has a distinct shape, as well as being fairly small. Either way, whatever I saw, it was pretty good with a 72mm ED doublet. I'm even more excited about the opposition now.



    In fact, I felt this excited and good about it lol!
     
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  11. Orion25

    Orion25 Well-Known Member

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    Wow! You ARE excited, lol. Great report, as always. I'm excited , too. I'm waiting until the planets rise a little earlier in the night to start back imaging (especially Mars), but I've already started seriously observing the planets again. I'm hopeful that we won't have to deal with a global dust storm on Mars this time around. And Mars should be only slightly smaller than in 2018, so this should be a really good apparition.
     
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  12. Mak the Night

    Mak the Night Well-Known Member

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    Hopefully there won't be a global storm, I think they are more likely when Mars is particularly close to us. I've read that it is possibly something to do with the Earth's gravity affecting Martian weather systems when both planets are closer than usual during an opposition. Or space gremlins, I'm not sure.
     
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  13. Mak the Night

    Mak the Night Well-Known Member

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    I got first light with the ED80 /MoonLite. I had a relatively decent deep sky session, although the only globular cluster I could find in Ophiuchus was M10. The Hercules Clusters seemed less distinct than the previous night as well. I'm pretty sure this was a transparency issue due to the humidity. The seeing seemed above average though and I got a good 150x and 160x on Saturn and Jupiter. I observed Jupiter until 02:37 BST (transit). I could see a fair bit of detail on both planets. The GRS was quite prominent on Jupiter. The Galilean moons resolved into tiny discs. The Cassini Division in Saturn's rings was easily observed.

    1.jpg

    I increased the magnification with Mars however, getting 200x with the 3mm DeLite and a Baader Neodymium filter.

    plainfx1.jpg

    I could see the large features below the equator as well as before, although they seemed far more defined, which I put down to the Baader Neodymium. The large dark albedo feature in the picture above (top arrow) north of the equator in the Elysium Planitia region was recognisable and there was even a hint of dark northern polar features.

    2.jpg

    The entire southern pole was bright, although slightly less so than before, and had a yellow-orange tinge. I'm pretty certain these are clouds over most of the Planum Australe area now. Although I'm guessing the bright polar cap is shining through them. The lower arrow in the second picture points to my dodgy Photoshop attempt to render what I saw. I suppose Pixar won't be offering me a job anytime soon lol.

    3.jpg

    It appears the whole southern polar region is susceptible to clouding over.



    OK, I saw southern lights/clouds lol.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2020
  14. Orion25

    Orion25 Well-Known Member

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    Great report, Mak. That ED80/Moonlite combo seems to really deliver. I've got to get back out there this weekend and camp out for Mars! Love the video ;)
     
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  15. Mak the Night

    Mak the Night Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Reggie. Camping out on Mars sounds fun. I bet it's a bit windy.

    2020-06-25 18.12.35 www.colorado.edu bfa9127071c0.jpg

    Although, on the plus side, no mosquitoes ... and definitely no bears!
     
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  16. Orion25

    Orion25 Well-Known Member

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    Oh darn, dust from the Sahara is filling the sky here in the southern U.S. This happens annually here as the tradewinds carry dust from the Sahara desert in to the U.S. My camp out is cancelled for this weekend. Haze, haze everywhere, ugggh! If it's not one type of dust it's another, lol. Hope things are much clearer your way, Mak ;)
     
  17. Mak the Night

    Mak the Night Well-Known Member

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    Well, no Sahara dust here (yet) although we have been having a heatwave. Thunderstorms and cloud next I should imagine. Roll on winter when we get winds from the Urals. And it's bloody cold in the Urals!

     
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  18. Orion25

    Orion25 Well-Known Member

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    I'd love to cuddle with Kate Bush if I were stuck in the Urals! GRRRRRRRRRRRRR! ;)
     
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  19. Mak the Night

    Mak the Night Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, she'd keep your goulash warm.



    Meanwhile I'm clouded out and streaming Killing Eve on BBC iPlayer.
     
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