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Nyctimene

Mars slowly revealing structures

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Posted (edited)

Mainly I'm interested in observing  Deep Sky objects and Luna, visiting Jupiter and Saturn now and then, mostly at the opposition times. Mars had been disappointing me during the last weeks, due partly to the dust storm, but as well to the continuously bad seeing. When I got, during the late evening of Aug. 6th, Saturn in the field of the 8" f/4 Hofheim Instruments traveldob, I was surprised by a substantial improvement of the seeing. The Cassini division could be seen along almost the whole ring circumference with mag 200x; I perceived a band structure on the planet's surface, and even a tiny bit of the planet's shadow on the ring (at the limit of vision). Encouraged, I went over to Mars, which had just climbed over the SE horizon. Using a 6 mmf UWA together with the 2x Abbe Barlow, I got a magnification of 266x. An orange filter was needed to reveal (for the first time during this opposition) a few dark structures. I glimpsed a darker area roughly shaped like a mix of a fat letter "Y" and a triangle, pointing to the north (the hot weather created the association of a bathing slip the planet was wearing!). As SkySafari showed, the western part was Tyrrhena Terra, the middle part  Terra Sabaea, followed by Arabia Terra to the east. A hint of the S polar cap could be made out. Without filter, the structures disappeared almost completely. So, still in time, the Mars disappointment has come to an end. But I have to re-learn the observing of planets again to get more detailed views during the next weeks. The 8" f/4, although not a typical "planetary" scope, gave excellent views. Combined with the balmy 22°C, a pleasing evening.

Attached a simple drawing (beginner in this!):

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Thanks for reading.

Stephan

Edited by Nyctimene
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Well done. You seem to have had an enjoyable session Stephen. It was interesting what you were saying about the effect of filters which obviously made a difference.

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Nice one! I had my first view of Mars this apparition last night and could also make out the dark 'flattened Y' ;)

I couldn't even properly get the Cassini division on Saturn in my 250px - poor seeing through so much atmosphere..., so was glad to see any features at all on Mars, given that my scope was pointed almost to the horizon!!

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Yes, you had a good evening Stephan. Like many others I have found that the combination of a major dust storm and glare from the planetary disc as made surface features difficult to see without some type of filter. I have been using a Wratten 23A, but even then the view as been noticeably better when Mars as been lower down in the haze and murk of the horizon, despite the poor seeing it seems to form a natural filter. However, you only want the lightest veil of cloud, anything more is fatal.    Chris.

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Thin cloud can make a wonderful planetary filter :smiley:

Twilight sky is good too, as long as you can find the planet.

I believe some planetary observers deliberately minimise the disze of their pupil by staring at some illuminated white card immediately before viewing.

A dark sky and dark adapted eyes can be a disadvantage when it comes to seeing subtle planetary detail.

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which planetary filter is best for Mars??

Thank you.

Paul

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The best filter I have ever used on mars is a Neodymium coated one of the Moon&SkyGlow variety, I bought 3 different brands seeking the best filter and found no difference among them other than price. They also help on Jupiter making the GRS more definable.

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Fantastic to hear of details to be seen at last!  Thanks for posting :) 

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