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Thread: Get out and start observing Mars!

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    Florin Andrei's Avatar
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    Default Get out and start observing Mars!



    This is a great time to look at Mars in a telescope. Although it is now decreasing in size, it's still big enough. Plus, as Mars rotates, Syrtis Major, a very high contrast feature, becomes visible at convenient hours before midnight for American observers - this will happen in early May, when Mars is still at decent size. For Europeans, Syrtis should be visible these days during early night hours, I think.

    Seeing (absence of atmospheric turbulence) is crucial. If seeing is not at least decent (3/5), then you won't see much, or anything at all. In great seeing, you'll see quite a few details.

    Make sure your telescope is collimated PERFECTLY. Mars requires great performance from the optics.

    Make sure your telescope is at thermal equilibrium with the air - take it outside 1 or even 2 hours before you observe, and let it cool off. Reflectors 200 mm (8") and larger - use a fan on the primary mirror.

    Use the highest magnification allowed by seeing.

    Here's a tool to predict seeing (pick a location close to your home):

    http://cleardarksky.com/csk/

    Here's a tool that shows you which side of Mars is visible to you right now:

    http://www.skyandtelescope.com/obser...de-is-visible/

    I did some observations tonight. I used a small aperture (150 mm, or 6"), but seeing was very good (4/5). I was able to discern a few dark features (Mare Acidalium, plus the Mare Erythraeum / Mare Sirenum combo); they were washed out and faint, but clearly there when turbulence was down. The polar cap was excellent - very tiny, but surprisingly bright and clear.

    All of this was at 255x. When going down to 180x, the Mare formations were less visible, and the polar cap was all but lost.

    Go out and do it. It's a great show.
    Last edited by Florin Andrei; 04-17-2014 at 08:19 AM.
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    Florin Andrei - http://florin.myip.org/

    self-made primary optics and telescopes, good eyepieces, stable and clear atmosphere (usually)

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    Default Re: Get out and start observing Mars!

    I've been watching mars for the past few weeks. I first noticed it getting out of my car, shining bright in the south eastern sky. The other night I was able to make out Syrtis Major with just my AR 102. It was small and there was chroma, but it was definitely there.

    If it is clear tonight I'll drag out my dob and look more closely.
    Florin Andrei likes this.
    Happy gazing

    Celestron C-8, Zhumell 8" dob, ES AR 102, vixen vmc110, minitower pro, portamount II, Explore Scientific, Televue, Astro-tech, Orion, celestron, TMB, Baader, and zhumell eyepieces, Pentax and Celestron binos.

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    Default Re: Get out and start observing Mars!

    Last night Mare Acidalium was visible, like a horseshoe, brown colored, taking the whole bottom-left quadrant (inverted image in dob).

    The Mare Erythraeum / Solis Lacus / Aurorae Sinus complex was like a thick straight line in top-left, hugging the edge; it seemed a different hue, almost blue-ish.

    The polar ice cap was a very tiny but quite bright white dot at the very bottom, right on the edge.

    I thought I may have seen clouds in the big Tharsis plains, but I'm not sure.

    My kids also saw Mare Acidalium and the polar cap.

    Seeing was 4/5 with moments of waving and shimmering - but low resolution detail did not seem blurred, just distorted.

    Using a 6" reflector at 255x.
    Florin Andrei - http://florin.myip.org/

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    Default Re: Get out and start observing Mars!

    Nice report! Thanks Florin.
    Happy gazing

    Celestron C-8, Zhumell 8" dob, ES AR 102, vixen vmc110, minitower pro, portamount II, Explore Scientific, Televue, Astro-tech, Orion, celestron, TMB, Baader, and zhumell eyepieces, Pentax and Celestron binos.

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    Default Re: Get out and start observing Mars!

    Thanks for the link!
    Lea
    Telescope: Sky-Watcher 200p Dobsonian.
    Camera: Panasonic DMC - FZ45
    A few bits and lots of dreams!
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