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Stu

Quick session - Mars & Saturn 20th July

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After a few nice views of the sun today in the 4", I switched out the Herschel Wedge for the Zeiss prism, Barlow and Leica zoom to have a go at Mars and Saturn. I wasn't expecting much after such a hot day, but the reality was far better, some of my best views of these two this year. As ever, I'm a little uncertain of the mag because of the exact spacing with the Barlow, but I was probably maxing out at x180 or so, but possibly x200. Detail was visible even at much lower levels.

Emphasising the beauty of this setup, I only had about 15 mins to observe, so I carried it down to the bottom of the garden where I get a clear view of the two planets, had some nice views, then just packed up quickly, all done in about 25 mins I should think.

Anyway, on to the views. Mars immediately looked great, the seeing was good, and surprisingly steady. The phase was clear, Syrtis Major obvious, and defined well. I could see the north polar cap, getting obscured by the phase now. To the south, Hellas Planitia showed as a bright area, looking a little like a big polar cap but more orange than white.

These views were unfiltered, the sky background was bright and Mars itself a pale orange colour. I popped the Mars B filter in and immediately the sky background was virtually black, giving Mars a nicer apparent contrast. Mars itself appeared a deeper orange colour, more Mars like if you will ;). Syrtis Major appeared darker and slightly better defined, but Hellas Planitia was dimmed and I lost the polar cap. The Mars B didn't show any more detail (based on this brief view), but I did enjoy the views as an alternative. I need to try the less aggressive Mars A filter which may be a better compromise. Should also give the Neodymium a go too which is very effective on Mars, but not Saturn for some reason. Note to self, probably should get a filter slide for my 1.25" filters to make comparisons easier, I have plenty of infocus range so it should work fine.

One obvious statement is the importance of focus in picking out the detail. Very small tweaks on the fine focuser significantly improved the views so it's well worth getting it right, and using a dual speed focuser if you can.

On to Saturn, and again the best and steadiest views I've had this year. The Cassini division was very clear other than the thin section infront of the planet where I lost it. It was visible most of the time, but became vague when the seeing dropped off every now and then.

This was only a quick session so my recall of features is a bit hazy! A and B rings were clear. I believe I saw the Crepe ring in front of the planet, but need to verify again whether this was the case. The darker section in the B ring was visible, as was shading/banding on the surface. The only moon I could detect was Titan as it was still too bright for the others; I know that at least 5 are visible in this scope under good conditions.

So, a long report on a short session. I'm mainly writing it because I don't seem to have had much luck with these two so far this year, either too low, poor seeing, cloud or too busy so these views were very welcome. It's often said (by me too!) that you need to spend a long time observing to pull out the detail in planets, well last night that was not the case, detail was clear right from the start. I could have spent an hour on them, but Mrs Stu was ready to turn in, and I know better than to disobey the CEO :).

The images attached are approximations of what I saw, or at least they are on my iPhone. The main difference with Mars is that I could see the polar cap (in the unfiltered view) which has been lost in this image which is more similar to the filtered view. Saturn is shown against a brighter background as it was unfiltered. They may be too large a scale on a full screen, so don't look too closely ;). Just trying to give a rough idea without having done a sketch.

image.jpeg

image.jpeg

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Very nice read and pics, I went out last night as I not been out from feb this year, I did not get  any were as good as your but still good just to get out.

Tak 106 16mm ep on x2 barlow  cloulds stop play at 12.30 .

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That's a brilliant report, Stu, and plenty of return on investment for a short space of time.  If I could see things in my scope like those images I would be giddy with delight!  My views of Mars and Saturn this year have been, shall we say, quite mushy. 

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On 21/07/2016 at 09:29, Stu said:

After a few nice views of the sun today in the 4", I switched out the Herschel Wedge for the Zeiss prism, Barlow and Leica zoom to have a go at Mars and Saturn. I wasn't expecting much after such a hot day, but the reality was far better, some of my best views of these two this year. As ever, I'm a little uncertain of the mag because of the exact spacing with the Barlow, but I was probably maxing out at x180 or so, but possibly x200. Detail was visible even at much lower levels.

Emphasising the beauty of this setup, I only had about 15 mins to observe, so I carried it down to the bottom of the garden where I get a clear view of the two planets, had some nice views, then just packed up quickly, all done in about 25 mins I should think.

Anyway, on to the views. Mars immediately looked great, the seeing was good, and surprisingly steady. The phase was clear, Syrtis Major obvious, and defined well. I could see the north polar cap, getting obscured by the phase now. To the south, Hellas Planitia showed as a bright area, looking a little like a big polar cap but more orange than white.

These views were unfiltered, the sky background was bright and Mars itself a pale orange colour. I popped the Mars B filter in and immediately the sky background was virtually black, giving Mars a nicer apparent contrast. Mars itself appeared a deeper orange colour, more Mars like if you will ;). Syrtis Major appeared darker and slightly better defined, but Hellas Planitia was dimmed and I lost the polar cap. The Mars B didn't show any more detail (based on this brief view), but I did enjoy the views as an alternative. I need to try the less aggressive Mars A filter which may be a better compromise. Should also give the Neodymium a go too which is very effective on Mars, but not Saturn for some reason. Note to self, probably should get a filter slide for my 1.25" filters to make comparisons easier, I have plenty of infocus range so it should work fine.

One obvious statement is the importance of focus in picking out the detail. Very small tweaks on the fine focuser significantly improved the views so it's well worth getting it right, and using a dual speed focuser if you can.

On to Saturn, and again the best and steadiest views I've had this year. The Cassini division was very clear other than the thin section infront of the planet where I lost it. It was visible most of the time, but became vague when the seeing dropped off every now and then.

This was only a quick session so my recall of features is a bit hazy! A and B rings were clear. I believe I saw the Crepe ring in front of the planet, but need to verify again whether this was the case. The darker section in the B ring was visible, as was shading/banding on the surface. The only moon I could detect was Titan as it was still too bright for the others; I know that at least 5 are visible in this scope under good conditions.

So, a long report on a short session. I'm mainly writing it because I don't seem to have had much luck with these two so far this year, either too low, poor seeing, cloud or too busy so these views were very welcome. It's often said (by me too!) that you need to spend a long time observing to pull out the detail in planets, well last night that was not the case, detail was clear right from the start. I could have spent an hour on them, but Mrs Stu was ready to turn in, and I know better than to disobey the CEO :).

The images attached are approximations of what I saw, or at least they are on my iPhone. The main difference with Mars is that I could see the polar cap (in the unfiltered view) which has been lost in this image which is more similar to the filtered view. Saturn is shown against a brighter background as it was unfiltered. They may be too large a scale on a full screen, so don't look too closely ;). Just trying to give a rough idea without having done a sketch.

image.jpeg

image.jpeg

This is an excellent report Stu. I'm really sorry I missed it at the time of posting but I think I was distracted for a while over the summer. I'm not sure what filters you have available but a Wrattan 21 light orange works well on small aperture scopes with regard to Mars and can bring out the dark markings. A Wrattan 82A light blue helps with highlighting the polar caps and bright areas. Saturn too sounds like it gave you a memorable time, which is good going considering the low angle of the two planets from the UK this year.

I love the images too! :icon_biggrin:

Mike 

 

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Thanks Mike, appreciated :)

It's a dim and distant memory now, haven't had much observing since at all really.

I have the Televue Planetary, Mars A and filters (you know me, a fool and his money easily parted ;)), but only tried the B during this observation. they do seem quite effective on Mars but I haven't really taken to the Planetary filter.

I do have some coloured filters around but confess I've never tried them on Mars, must give them a go sometime.

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28 minutes ago, Stu said:

Thanks Mike, appreciated :)

It's a dim and distant memory now, haven't had much observing since at all really.

I have the Televue Planetary, Mars A and filters (you know me, a fool and his money easily parted ;)), but only tried the B during this observation. they do seem quite effective on Mars but I haven't really taken to the Planetary filter.

I do have some coloured filters around but confess I've never tried them on Mars, must give them a go sometime.

To be honest Stu, I've never been a planetary filter fan either. The rewards don't seem to warrant the effort somehow. I'm more of the mind that patiently waiting for a fleeting moment of good seeing will reveal any hidden detail sooner or later, and tweaking the micro focus regularly to ensurin critical focus is a good habit too. I have a friend who just won't refocus the scope when I step aside to let him take a look. He says that his eyes are the same as mine, but I find it hard to believe there isn't some minute adjustment needed, after all I have to keep adjusting the focus for myself. Anyhow, I now purposely rack the scope out of focus so he has to play by my rules. ☺

Mike

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14 hours ago, mikeDnight said:

To be honest Stu, I've never been a planetary filter fan either. The rewards don't seem to warrant the effort somehow. I'm more of the mind that patiently waiting for a fleeting moment of good seeing will reveal any hidden detail sooner or later, and tweaking the micro focus regularly to ensurin critical focus is a good habit too. I have a friend who just won't refocus the scope when I step aside to let him take a look. He says that his eyes are the same as mine, but I find it hard to believe there isn't some minute adjustment needed, after all I have to keep adjusting the focus for myself. Anyhow, I now purposely rack the scope out of focus so he has to play by my rules. ☺

Mike

To take your last point first , I couldn't agree more! So many times when you let people look through your scope they say the same thing, 'my eyes are the same as yours' which you KNOW isn't the case.

Filter wise, I find the neodymium to be effective on Mars and Jupiter, despite it only really being an LP filter. The Televue planetary filter seems to give quite a lot of false colour particularly when the seeing is flakey, it's not one I've got best use from but hold onto it for sometime in the next decade or so when the planets get higher ;).

The Mars A and B darken the sky background quite dramatically, particularly the B, and increase the perceived contrast but I don't actually think they show you any more, in fact as said in my report I lost the polar cap completely when using the B.

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I find that one of the best filters for enhancing contrast and detail on Jupiter is a very thin, high cloud layer. Difficult to arrange to order though :rolleyes2:

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Seems to work on close doubles too; maybe FLO could look into selling something to do the trick!

Chris

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On 25/11/2016 at 20:15, mikeDnight said:

This is an excellent report Stu. I'm really sorry I missed it at the time of posting but I think I was distracted for a while over the summer. I'm not sure what filters you have available but a Wrattan 21 light orange works well on small aperture scopes with regard to Mars and can bring out the dark markings. A Wrattan 82A light blue helps with highlighting the polar caps and bright areas. Saturn too sounds like it gave you a memorable time, which is good going considering the low angle of the two planets from the UK this year.

I love the images too! :icon_biggrin:

Mike 

 

Just checked and I do actually have some coloured filters which I will give a go sometime.

IMG_7412.JPG

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1 minute ago, chiltonstar said:

That's what I was thinking of.....maybe a power modulation control so it just turns thick grey gloom into slight haze?

Chris

Your next project perhaps Chris? It's very handy for white light solar too ;) 

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8 minutes ago, Stu said:

Your next project perhaps Chris? It's very handy for white light solar too ;) 

Wouldn't that risk breaking the Paris climate change agreement rules, ie if we all bought one and the UK became permanently sunny, and warmer. Might be useful for growing grapes and some decent tomatoes and peppers though....

Chris

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