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Matt1

Mars viewing

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So I was finally able to use the  telescope tonight without any cloud well for 10 mins anyway. Got some awesome views of the Jupiter.  However, I set my sights on Mars on focused in on the little yellow feller and it still looked like a small yellow dot....?doh-old.gif

I am using an  dob 200p and I had a 10mm lens with the 2 x Barlow barlow. I don't know exactly how that breaks down in to magnification numbers, but I would think I should at least be able to have a pretty decent picture of Mars with it, or am I wrong?

Its hard enough to line up on anything with that magnification as it is. Course I’m just a newbie so what do I know.

Please Help

Cheers

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Hi Matt,

Mars is pretty challenging at the best of times, but now is not a good time to view as it is a long way from opposition.

Currently it is around 4 arc seconds across, in May 2016 at opposition it will be over 4 times the size at 18 arc seconds.

To view Mars well, you need high magnification, good cooling and collimation aswell as good seeing conditions. All this, plus the planet should be near opposition.

Your mag was x240 which is about right under good conditions, Mars needs more than Jupiter or Saturn.

Here are two snaps of Mars now, and at next opposition, at the same scale.

5a9b771e7c1926f07496feddc49512aa.jpg

6bfd903675b5d4845b126a3ad983a945.jpg

Under the best conditions I've seen amazing detail on Mars, under the worst it is nothing more than a small orange blob!

Stu

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1200*2/10 = 240x

For Mars to be anything other then a small disk you will need a bit more, equally the 10mm and the barlow are not really good and you will I suspect have lost detail. Also it is low and the sky will cause problems with detail also.

Mars is a very small object, as said elsewhere Mars at it's closest is smaller then Jupiter at it's furthest from earth.

Without access to better eyepieces (I assume the 10mm was the supplied item?) like the BST 5mm or the X-Cel 5mm you are likely to be stuck, even then no real guarantee.

Also to get anything at that magnification the scope needs to be well collimated, all these little factors count.

What happens now is diminishing returns, you could find that an 8mm BST and a good barlow might deliver, it is 1mm less but that makes the difference between 240x and 300x so in terms of magnification a big change. A 9mm X-Cel and a good barlow makes 267x. But to find out which is "best" you now have a 5mm, 8mm, 9mm and barlow. That is a lot of additional purchases coming to about £200 to find out which combination delivers the expected view, if any will.

Edited by ronin

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Mars apparent diameter is very small at the moment as has been said. It's apparrent diameter is only a wee bit more twice that of the largest of Jupiters moons so it's going to be tough to discern more than a tiny orange disk.

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Are you sure that yellow dot wasn't Venus, it was right next to Mars, which when you see it will be a reddish colour.

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Mars is the only planet i have pretty much given up on. I saw some slight detail on the surface a couple of yrs back and thats about it.

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It turns out that Mars is surprisingly hard...

I couldn't see a lot at opposition last year, and it's tiny now. I can only see it as a disc. Drew this at opposition, at x240, on a really good night:

post-28380-0-04571200-1397478736.jpg

I'd wait for it to come around again in 2016...

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Hi Matt,

As already stated, you're unlikely to see anything on Mars at present. However you stand every chance of seeing albedo features when it next graces our evening skies. You are using a much larger aperture scope than I do and this will show Mars quite a bit brighter. I have little problem seeing surface detail on Mars, yet at times I use certain wrattan colour filters to highlight certain features. I use a Wrattan 21 (orange) and Wrattan 82A (light blue) to help enhance subtle detail. Personally I don't care much for filters, but they do have their uses. Once I've been made aware of a feature I usually remove the filter and am still able to see the feature. In your case, your scope having greater light grasp, it might be an idea to use filters to reduce the brightness of Mars tiny disk. The orange and blue filters I mentioned have specific uses. The orange W21 helps reveal dark surface detail, while the W82A light blue helps reveal clouds and surface ice. A darker blue may be more appropriate for your scope, perhaps W80. A polarising filter may also be useful .

You could however be seeing more than you first think. Each time, no matter how bland the disk, draw what you see over an extended period. In moments of steady seeing detail will jump out at you but you have to be at the eyepiece to see it, so don't give up easily. Make sketches over several nights and you'll see Mars reveal itself to you.

Mike

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The only filter I use for Mars is a Baader Neodymium filter, as Andy has said

Mars is tiny at the moment, and the seeing needs to be good, i have seen detail

with my 90mm frac, but that was a year or so ago, and the polar cap was visible,

but at the moment it's not good, going back to the Badder Neodymium filter it is

exceptional when viewing Jupiter, I used it Saturday and the views were stunning,

it really brings out the detail, and shows the colour much brighter too. 

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Hi Everyone thank you for your reply's unfortunately I have had to give up on Mars for now, but is their a best time of year to see mars?

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Next opposition is 22nd May 2016 so best viewing will be around then

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Not so much a time of year as a year, next  good one is May 2016.

Dave

You must type faster than me Stu :)

Edited by Davey-T

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The next closest opposition is due in 2287, if that helps - then you should see some detail. :D

...and to quote the NASA website...

"Close Approach: Mars Hoax

However, don't be fooled by the Mars Hoax! Since 2003, this urban legend gets circulated through email and social media every time Mars makes a close approach.

The message is that Mars will look as big as the Moon in our night sky. If that were true, we'd be in big trouble given the gravitational pulls on Earth, Mars, and our Moon!" - end of quote.

...and the 'typical' British weather is going to be  :clouds1: or :clouds2:

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Hi Matt, + 1 for other folks advice but a couple of points, Mars is red very red and if it were a yellow thing you were looking at then I suspect it wasn't Mars.

Wait till Mars is higher in the evening/night sky next opposition, you don't stand much of a chance at its present elevation and distance as it is so small.

Mars is a very reqarding planet to view but it takes getting used to as features are very low contrast and the planet is bright so features get swamped easily unless you "get your eye in" or even better use planetary filters.

My favourite Mars observation was 2 oppossitions ago when Mars was very close and high in the evening sky. I had just pimped up a 1960s 80mm F15 Towa 339 refractor and wow the views were superb, loads of detail especially with filters. So you don't need a big scope just the right conditions

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As has been said above. Mars will look red, but you wont get much from it now. At it's best with a high magnification and really good seeing you will see surface details with your 200p - but it takes patience and a bit of time.

AndyWB's sketch is a good example of what you might see under good conditions.

Edited by bish

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At good oppositions I've seen polar caps and some shading with my old 60mm refractor.

It's a long way off now, look at this fun tool I just found: http://www.solarsystemscope.com/ Set scale and planet size to realistic and drag the screen for an "overhead" view.

Currently we are looking right across Earth's and most of Mars' orbit, and it's only a lickle planet!

Play time forward and see how much closer mars will be in May 2016. But it still won't be as close as it can get.

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July 2018 is the closest opposition of Mars for many years to come. Even then it's apparent size in the sky will be only a bit more than half that of Jupiter. It is a small world.

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When folks get their first view of Saturn they go WOW, when they get their view of Mars through the same scope they go oh.

Dave

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Matt do you have Stellarium software or similar? You can use this to "fast forward" and see where Mars (or other targets of course) will be at any given time in the future - or past. Very handy for planning your viewing.

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Hi Matt, Mars is a difficult little planet to view at the best of times,but it has a strong pull on our  collective imagination! I'd content yourself for now that at least you have seen it-providing that you have positively identified it.It isn't referred to as 'The RED Planet' for nothing.It's colour is unmistakeable.

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