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Observing Mars


Putthi Cheat Lim
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Hello everyone. Last night was my first time observing Mars through my telescope, it's a skywatcher 10" dobsonian. I was a bit underwhelmed by it because what I saw was just a small red disc even with a high power eyepiece. I couldn't see much detail. Is there any way I can see some more detail?

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It's probably because its not well placed and atmospheric conditions and also you have to allow the scope to cool outside for at least under an hour for best possible seeing and also what magnification was you using as you would need a high magnification to make detail out but its very far from the earth a this moment but spring will be the best time! :)

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Matt: I used a 5mm eyepiece so I got x240 magnification. I think you're right about the atmospheric condition it was very cold and humid so the exterior of my scope was really wet and probably the mirror as well, thinking about that I don't want to get my telescope out in the winter.

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Just wait for those clear, cold nights. My best view of Mars was in January 2010 and the view was stunning. I managed to use a 6.4mm plossl and a 2x barlow and was still seeing detail on the disc including a bright polar ice cap. In my telescope that works out to x375 mag!

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Mars at the moment is incredibly disappointing for us with small telescopes, for me 4" refractor. Last year and next at around 14 arc sec is quite small. I remember observing it in the late seventies at around 25 arc sec and it was a lovely site with a lot of detail observable in small telescopes.

It still fires the imagination though!

andrew

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I was observing Mars from Tenerife this morning. Apart from location, it seems the trick is to try Mars in an almost daytime sky with the highest magnification the scope and conditions will allow as otherwise the image is too small and too bright to make out detail. I was able to use 450x on a Nexstar 8SE at around 6.30, lowering the power to 275x by 8.00 to preseve the brightness. The small but brilliantly white polar cap with a grey/blue collar was well seen along with a broad but vague greyish surface detail, the disc itself was a very pale orange.

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I managed to get up early enough to see Mars for the second time just this morning.

Unfortunately the clear sky I thought I had was actually just a break in cloud between torrential rain so I only had 30 mins of viewing time. No time to let the scope cool down.

So partly because of the poor atmospheric conditions and lack of cooldown, Mars gave me no detail at all. It did however look noticably bigger than when I looked at it a few weeks ago and was very definitely a planet rather than a large red star, if you know what I mean. Disappointing compared to Jupiter, but still worth looking at, imo!

(I did move on to Saturn - my first view - which was much more satisfying. Definite rings with darkness between the rings and the planet. I got about 2 minutes viewing before sprinting into the house with my kit, trying to avoid another downpour.)

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Hi Putthi,

Mars is currently showing an apparent disk size of about 7 arcseconds but when it's closest to us at opposition next March it will be twice that diameter at nearly 14 arcseconds. Unfortunately, this won't be as good the 25 arcseconds size which the disk can present at favourable oppositions when Mars is at its very closest to us. However, with your 10" dob you should get some good views of it sooner or later.

Dave

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I experimented with different eyepieces on Mars this morning to see what was the lowest magnification that would still show the polar cap, it was still evident at 100x with a C8, the Sun was well up at the time.

Thanks, that's very handy to know.

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Just been out to have a look at Mars I left my scope in the van over night so that it would be some where near ambient moved it out to the garden about 04.30 left it to cool for another hour and then braved the cold. The air was un steady but during the brief moments of good seeing I was able to see the polar ice cap and some of the darker markings. On the whole I am pleased with the views I got considering Mars is not at its best at the moment. I found that using a neutral density filter helped improve the view. I would have liked to observe until it got lighter but kids will be up for school soon.

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