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Commanderfish

Tips for observing Mars

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Hi guys,

Any tips for observing Mars?  I've observed Jupiter and Saturn many times and am able to extract a good amount of detail using my ED 127 Apo and my C9.25.  However Mars seems to yield no detail at all.  It is less than 20 degrees up in the sky and I'm not using any filters.

 

Are filters the solution?  If so, which colour?

 

Cheers 

 

Fish

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I've had reasonable views in the Tak recently, dark markings showing aswell as the polar cap. It's a tricky little blighter, particularly down low as you say. I reckon you should concentrate on the 127ED, observe as much as you can to try to catch the good seeing when it happens. I have often found x200 plus is useful for Mars. @mikeDnight will probably disagree with me but he has bionic eyes so perhaps is not a totally normal example ;) (apologies Mike :) )

I have also found that a Baader Neodymium filter works well on Mars.

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Unlike MikeDnight, I need an 8" to see much detail on Mars :icon_biggrin:. At 200x the image is far too bright and swamps the detail. I'm not a fan of filters so magnification is my remedy. Recently in Tenerife the best views of Mars were between 400x and 600x, unfortunately its low declination in the UK currently doesn't support this approach.

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12 minutes ago, Commanderfish said:

Hi guys,

Any tips for observing Mars?  I've observed Jupiter and Saturn many times and am able to extract a good amount of detail using my ED 127 Apo and my C9.25.  However Mars seems to yield no detail at all.  It is less than 20 degrees up in the sky and I'm not using any filters.

 

Are filters the solution?  If so, which colour?

 

Stu's right, I'm not normal and I would advise using around X150 to X180 for the reason that the atmospheric turbulence will smear a high power view. Whatever magnification you decide upon, keep the image sharp. If it turns soft you've overdone the power. If Mars were high it would take high power well but presently it's low down and doesn't give up its secrets easily. A wrattan 21 orange filter can help reveal the darker markings and a wrattan 80A blue can reveal cloud and polar ice. Personally i rarely use filters but i patiently observe the disk waiting for those brief moments of steady seeing when detail jumps out but then disappears again, recording what I see in a rough eyepiece  sketch. Over time I build up a picture of the detail on view, I suppose its a bit like stacking the image. I also use a binoviewer,  which seems to halve the turbulence, but i dont know why!

You've certainly got a scope that's capable of giving great Mars views but i suspect its the local seeing conditions that's your main bug bare. Constantly check you have critical focus throughout your observation, also you may have certain sweet spots where the seeing seems to be better, so it's worth noting these. Look for bright areas rather than dark. These can then draw you in to the more subtle detail on view, and be patient. If you sketch what you see, even if its only a rough drawing, you may be pleasantly surprised at the results.

Mike 

 

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Excellent info, thanks.  I may have gone too low on the magnification, starting at x120.  I did try x160 in the ED 127 and x181 in the SCT but Mars was so low in the sky, and shortly after that the clouds rolled in before Mars could reach the highest point in it's orbit.

I'll try again this weekend if there's any clear sky.

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Not sure what eyepiece you are using, but a good ortho. will cut down the scatter, which will also help a bit in eking out detail.  It's well worth persevering though, it's a great thrill to see a polar cap on an other planet.

 

andrew

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As has been said several times, patience and an appropriate power are your friend padawan ?

A decent image scale to pick out detail is good but do not overdo it, 150x and above is a good start, as Mike suggests..

In general lots of good advice in this thread, for an example of patience and what sort of challenges are faced when observing Mars, see my report in the Observers Reports section, my first time in 10 years or so, and Mars wasn't the only challenge (lol) ?

?

Tony.

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I agree lots of good advice in the thread from people but basically it comes down to conditions, being able to use X400 and above I imagine is very rare from the UK however where this was done is close to a site used for much larger telescopes so I guess the general air conditions in this area are a bit above normal. The disc of Mars would also be a fair bit higher in the sky from that location as well, even higher than it is from where I am.

I have never been a lover of Mars due to bad results over the years so I take all this advice on board for when I get a chance this time, I have also bought a TeleVue Mars filter so we will see what that delivers.

Alan

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My best-ever views of Mars were done over several nights during the 2003 Opposition - which aren't likely to be matched in my lifetime. But I will still go after him, that mean ol' 'God of War.' This time out he's a bit too low for my major artillery in way of telescopes. Then I used my 127mm F/9.3 achromatic-refractor. 200X - 250X was about right. The maria was well-pronounced, as were both icecaps - looking like two tufts of cotton.

I had a special 'Mars 2003' filter shipped to me from Sirius Optics, which were being discussed in one of my many forums at the time. Once it had arrived, I had excellent 'seeing' and the filter really allowed the surface-details to jump out at me. But the next night, a planet-wide dust-storm swept away all detail. We get rain, Mars gets dust. Things are tough everywhere! But a Baader Neodymium-Filter would be a good choice, as would just a #80A Blue-Filter. The 'Mars 2003' is long gone, aside from the one I have. Perhaps with the greatest of luck - one may come up for sale before 2018, when Mars will again pay a good visit (invasion?). As is, I'll show you what this filter does to the common lightbulb - which may indicate the approx. colour of the beast.

Mars is a very tough target to view. Jupiter is child's play by comparison. But don't let this stop you! Even low-down and coming through a lot of atmosphere can yeild good thing. The colours this time are exagerrated by way of refraction - oscillating from a glowing ruby-red and up to a bright orange. It looks like Sirius on acid!

On with the show.....

Dave

Sirius Optics Mars 2003 Filter - PNG.png

The Sirius Mars 2003 - The Harbinger of Dust

Sirius Optics Mars 2003 Filter.JPG

A light violet, perhaps?

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Ive never had much luck with Mars. Ive seen the polar cap once and a big dark part which looks like India. I tend to ignore it now. Its so low to the south that id not be able to spot it anyway.

Good thing i have a teeny tiny piece of Mars sitting on my desk. I like to look at that. Its brilliant under a microscope.

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