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Mars 14th February, 2009 C8 ASGT - Pentax Optio E30

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Every two years there's a hullabaloo about Mars coming. As usual, I set up the scope and get my sketchpad (cameras now) ready, only to find a large orange blob in the eyepiece! But last February 14th, there was a high haze in the sky. This was dimming the stars but I wondered if it might improve planetary images by reducing brightness like a filter. I set up the C8, used a Celestron Ultima LX 13mm 2" eyepiece for 150x and within about 10 seconds I could see the polar ice cap - plain as day. Then the dark surface features were visible. Visually, in moments of good seeing, these features were sharper than my image. I almost fell of my observing chair. I used a 1.6x 2" Barlow for 254x and had a great image at that magnification. I used a point and shoot Pentax Optio E30 to shoot video through the eyepiece. Mars showed good surface detail for the next few days from my location. I observed it for hours and tried sketching it too. I found a ND 13% filter was the best at bringing out detail. My friend offered me his two Mars Filters to try. I tried them both and still found the ND filter worked better for me.

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