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Struggling to see anything other than a tiny orange dot with Mars


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Hi,

I bought a Skywatcher 127 mak a couple months ago, I know Mars is close to us now, so as soon as it clears I tried to have a look. With Jupiter, I see a small beige disc with 4 moons, but no banding, red spot or any other detail. With Mars I can't see more than a tiny orange dot. It appears to be apparently 1mm in size. I've read lots of stuff saying you can see basic detail such as the polar caps and maybe some red/black contrasting areas with something like a 4 inch refractor. My 1500mm 5 inch telescope should give me better views, gather more light, than that, surely?

I've got two EPs, the 20mm, (or is it 25mm?) and 10mm that came with it. The 10mm is awful quality, so I don't bother with it, but the 20/25 seems quite good. I've got two 2X barlows, the TAL one everyone recommends, and the sky watcher one that came with the scope.

I've tried every combination of all the optics I have and I can't get more than a tiny dot, barely more than a point of light. :D

It is definitely Mars I'm looking at. I know that orange glow, and it's not Venus. My iPhone 4 apps confirm that too, when I swing around and it shows maps of the sky, where things will be, when, etc... So I'm not looking at a star, which I know will never be more than a point of light...

What's going wrong? :headbang: Could it be poorly collimated? I've had some pretty sharp shots of the moon from it, if you look at these, you'll be able to gauge the collimation quality, I'd guess...

Moon again | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Thanks for any advice offered...

Mike.

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I have a 150 dob, last night even after cooling scope for over an hour thats all i could see, big orange blob ... at best if i looked for ages i thought i could just make out the ice cap.

Used 2 x barlow with BST 15mm for best effect.

Think its just down to seeing conditions, some people suggest an orange filter helps

Keep tryng or stay up til 12 ish and wait for saturn

Good luck

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with mars its quite far away form us at the moment i think its closest approach was around 2 years ago (other members correct me if im wrong) opposition was a few days ago. there's not alot of detail to be seen with mars apart from a reddish disc and the polar caps if seeing is good so don't worry your not the only one who cant see mucho

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If it were collimation issues you'd notice it on stars too.mars won't give secrets away easily. When seeing is good you want high power to see surface details. Over x150 at least.I can only go to x83 at the moment , and it shows naff all .

Edited by rory
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It really is all about the "seeing" with Mars. I saw the polar cap and Syrtis Major region the other night for the first time ever. Any other time i have observed Mars before that, it was just a tiny orange blob.

I was using the 8SE the other night with an 8mm Vixen NPL ep. Mars was still tiny but perfectly round.

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Hi YA Mike - stick at it mate, I have a Celestron 127 Mak and use maybe an 8 - 24 zoom ep, as mentioned before - its down to seeing, best to wait for Mars to be the highest in the sky - when it passes the meridian (the imaginary line in the sky - take a line from Polaris and follow over your head to point due South) you'll be looking through the least amount of atmosphere.

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Sorry hit the wrong button!!! try this - Mars Profiler this lets you see which detail is visible at anytime, use the Mak button to show you the correct view (north at the top but east/west switched) and you can plan when to observe - I use an 8 - 24 Baader zoom and when conditions allow - click to the 8mm (about x187) with an orange filter in place and the atmosphere steadies for a little while things become less shaky and the polar cap and darker shadings "pop" out, with practice it becomes easier - hang in the Mike and persevere things will get better mate

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To see anything with Mars you are looking at a magnification around the 200x plus mark. You could easily need 250x.

At either you are dependant on the atmosphere being stable and the atmosphere is not stable. Have a look at Metcheck, throw in you postcode, then click on Jetstream. The jetstream is running right down the UK so you have this large moving stream of air above us. Not exactly stable.

At 1500mm FL to get 200x you will need a 7.5mm eyepiece, and it will need to be decent. Would suggest the 8mm BST but that gives 187x, close. Perhaps the BST 12mm and the Tal barlow ?? Gives 250x

Wouldn't like to say if the scope will be usable at 250x, would doubt it, yes, I know it is 127mm and 2x127 = 254x.

Perhaps a 7mm TMB planatary.

However Mars is notoriously difficult, it is also a long way off and small. Don't expect a foolball size image.

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Look at Field of view Calculator<script src="title2.js"></script> to see what you will see down your scope!

I do like this program but it can be a bit misleading sometimes. I have however input the setup i was using the other night to observe Mars and it is pretty accurate.As i said i was able to see the polar cap and Syrtis Major. The "seeing" that night must have been exceptional.

Here's what the program says i should see with my setup that night: I would have used a barlow, but i really dont think my Revelation 2X is much good. It dims and blurs images.

p.s.~~~click on image to see it as i remember.

post-18019-133877743764_thumb.jpg

Edited by LukeSkywatcher
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As Paul says, its down to seeing, i have an 80mm f11 refractor that has shown polar cap recently but more often just a orange blob

I have a 90mm (f11) refractor and i swear the views i get of planets with this scope beat anything i get with the 200mm SCT.

Long f/l refractors are just beasts when observing planets.

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to get good view os Mars you need a cooled scope, good seeing, good collimation, good eyepieces and good elevation in the sky. you also need a good amount of time staring at it. I find that I need to really stare for a good few minutes before any detail pops out.

I have recently got good detail with my 16" dob http://stargazerslounge.com/observing-planetary/179070-mars-moon-last-night-5-march-2012-a.html although I masekd it down to 6.7" and also with my 6" f11 dob so I agree slower focal ratios like ours are often better. a baader neodymium filter really helps improve the view.

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I also have the SW 127Mak. Two years ago I got some really good views of Mars including it's ice cap when it was overhead using a 16.8mm orthoscopic EP both on it's own and when barlowed 8.4mm with my SW 2x deluxe barlow. So far this year I've also been unable to see detail. I was trying last night to no avail. All I could get was a small bright pale orange ball.

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This opposition Mars just has not been close enough for the planetary disk to achieve a decent apparent diameter. The max this time around was 13.89 arc seconds. Compare that to the opposition of 2001 when it reached 20.79 arc seconds or the one in 2018 when it will reach 24.31 arc seconds.

Given the unfavorable opposition and the typical UK early spring observing conditions it's to their credit that some folks have managed to see at least some decent detail, judging by the sketches in that section of the forum.

We are just going to have to be patient to get some better views of the red planet :D

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