To put it into perspective:

Perhaps the Neanderthals still lived when last the planet Mars was
THIS close to terra firma.

So, despite the fact that my husband Stephen had been forced by
various health problems involving vision, back trouble, and arthritis
to give up active astronomical observing in the late 1990's, we
decided that THIS event -- the close opposition of Mars in 2003 --
simply HAD to be experienced.

And I no longer had regular summer access to the telescopes at Lick
Observatory, since I haven't given any of the "Music of the Spheres"
concerts for a few years.

After much consideration, we chose an interesting new viewing
opportunity, provided by Mr. James Adams, a resident of La Honda,
Calfornia, a central Santa Clara valley community near Skyline
Boulevard, not far from the town of Los Altos. Mr. Adams had arranged
a Mars viewing night at La Honda Elementary School for 23 August, and
posted the particulars to the Internet, where we found the information
on a Yahoo page about No. California Mars viewing.

It was an exceptional night, and my husband Stephen and I have written
a long article detailing our entertaining experiences. I have
provided a number of photos that I took in December 1991 at Lowell
Observatory, site of the historic "Mars canal" observations that
helped bring about the late 19th-early 20th century Mars craze.

Stephen has contributed two eyepiece drawings of Mars as seen in a
very clear and sharp f/15 achromat with a 4" aperture objective, owned
by Mr. Adams. The first view, when Mars was low and subjected to
blurry air, shocked Stephen as it replicated the famous "Martian
canal" visual illusions that many astronomers believed in as late as
the 1950s.

Better, steadier later night views showed remarkable detail. The
scopes present at the star party are discussed, along with many of the
objects we saw. In addition, I've included a discussion of my own
views of the planets with the 22", 36", and 40" telescopes at Mt.
Hamilton's Lick Observatory, during my lucky days as the music
director of their "Music of the Spheres" concert series, and a number
of pictures taken at Lick on Mt. Hamilton.

We hope you'll take a look at the article -- but even more important,
we hope you'll look at Mars! It's a grand sight.

Great viewing!

Regina Roper - piano teacher, amateur astro buff, and former Lick
Observatory volunteer

Mars opposition article at:

My Lick Observatory concert page:

My home page:

My Leonid Meteor report page:

Our free amateur astronomy software page: