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MKHACHFE

Mars is absolutely astonishing through my XT8. Wow wow wow.

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Hi all, so I have been observing the red planet recently through my lovely XT8 from Biggin Hill and was not expecting to see what I did. I figured I'd see a small red disc and MAYBE a hint of polar ice cap.

My viewing was very much less than ideal, I had to point my scope under a bright street light...even so, I was blown away.

With a BST 8mm and a Baader classic 10mm, the planet was big and the polar cap easily visible,as was surface detail. 

Absolutely beautiful view, even with far from ideal viewing conditions.

To anyone who has not not yet bothered to look at it...do it! Now, it won't be this close again for a very long time. 

Sorry for the pointless post, I just wanted to share.

 

Cheers

 

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Nothing pointless about your post @MKHACHFE. I think many people underestimate how good Mars can be when it is well positioned and conditions are good. Great to hear you had some excellent views, hopefully it will only get better come October, fingers crossed!

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Never apologise for enthusiasm! There's a distinct shortage of it about.

I know what you mean about Mars - I spent an hour just immersing myself in the view last night, even through wispy cloud. The S. polar cap was distinct and the dark markings inc. the Herschel zone in the centre and Syrtis Major (?) just visible at the edge. Beautifully clear and rendered even sharper with the "cloud filter"!

Scope was 180 Mak, ADC, 7.2 - 21mm zoom and Nd filter.

Chris

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Posted (edited)

Great stuff, it is rather amazing isn’t it? I observed for the first time in a few years  and what really surprised me was.....well everything really! It was big, sharp, light orange, with lots of features clearly visible. A long way from the tiny, boiling red disc which I remember from last time (I suspect there is some memory exaggeration going on too). It can only get better in the next couple of months. Looking forward to trying to tease the most out of it in various scopes and with various filters. Might even try a few sketches. 😁

Edited by RobertI
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Posted (edited)

Certainly nothing pointless about your post. Its what this forum is all about, gets us all out to look at the red planet in what will be a very favourable apparition. I read your post and looked at the rather frustrating weather in the next few days. Managed a brief look a few days ago through a small window in the clouds, thats been it. Turning into the worst August I can remember for a long time.

I think we need to keep reminding folk how good Mars will be in the coming months, certainly for the northern hemisphere observers. It wont be this angular size again until 2033 and even then it will come to opposition in July and be very poorly placed. Unless my list is out we are looking at 2052 for a similar apparition here in the north just to put it in perspective ( based on angular size), I might just be still around🤞

Ed

Edited by skyhog
missed something
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19 hours ago, RobertI said:

Great stuff, it is rather amazing isn’t it? I observed for the first time in a few years  and what really surprised me was.....well everything really! It was big, sharp, light orange, with lots of features clearly visible. A long way from the tiny, boiling red disc which I remember from last time (I suspect there is some memory exaggeration going on too). It can only get better in the next couple of months. Looking forward to trying to tease the most out of it in various scopes and with various filters. Might even try a few sketches. 😁

Exactly. It was just SO much better than I ever imagined

 

I was actually under the impression that August was the best time to view it. I'm very happy to find out from a few members in this thread, including you, that it's going to get even better. Awesome.

 

Cheers

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18 hours ago, skyhog said:

Certainly nothing pointless about your post. Its what this forum is all about, gets us all out to look at the red planet in what will be a very favourable apparition. I read your post and looked at the rather frustrating weather in the next few days. Managed a brief look a few days ago through a small window in the clouds, thats been it. Turning into the worst August I can remember for a long time.

I think we need to keep reminding folk how good Mars will be in the coming months, certainly for the northern hemisphere observers. It wont be this angular size again until 2033 and even then it will come to opposition in July and be very poorly placed. Unless my list is out we are looking at 2052 for a similar apparition here in the north just to put it in perspective ( based on angular size), I might just be still around🤞

Ed

You know, when I first got my scope just over a year ago, I was very disappointed to read about poor positions of the planets from the northern hemisphere for the next few years/ next decade. 

BUT, even considering how low Saturn and Jupiter are, they are still absolutely worth viewing. As for mars, it's only in a good position after midnight and it's very easy to not bother getting out of bed, lugging the telescope out, etc...but as I found out, it's TOTALLY worth it. So rewarding.

Cheers

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Thanks for the replies everyone.

 

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On 27/08/2020 at 04:33, MKHACHFE said:

Hi all, so I have been observing the red planet recently through my lovely XT8 from Biggin Hill and was not expecting to see what I did. I figured I'd see a small red disc and MAYBE a hint of polar ice cap.

My viewing was very much less than ideal, I had to point my scope under a bright street light...even so, I was blown away.

With a BST 8mm and a Baader classic 10mm, the planet was big and the polar cap easily visible,as was surface detail. 

Absolutely beautiful view, even with far from ideal viewing conditions.

To anyone who has not not yet bothered to look at it...do it! Now, it won't be this close again for a very long time. 

Sorry for the pointless post, I just wanted to share.

 

Cheers

 

Thank you for the report. It looks like you are having a good time observing the red planet. Now all you need to do. Is to draw what you're seeing.

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3 hours ago, MKHACHFE said:

Exactly. It was just SO much better than I ever imagined

 

I was actually under the impression that August was the best time to view it. I'm very happy to find out from a few members in this thread, including you, that it's going to get even better. Awesome.

 

Cheers

Certainly should be better in October, the disk is larger at 22.3” vs the current 18.3”, a decent increase. So long as we avoid a dust storm as happened last opposition we should have some fabulous views.

7AB16201-6E3D-49FA-9C34-F76DA7963626.png

4DD486B0-F935-4A4B-97B7-38315158E46D.png

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22 hours ago, skyhog said:

It wont be this angular size again until 2033 and even then it will come to opposition in July and be very poorly placed. Unless my list is out we are looking at 2052 for a similar apparition here in the north just to put it in perspective ( based on angular size), I might just be still around🤞

Interesting, but slightly depressing too! Still, we must make the most of what we have!


Back in January this year, I wound the clock back 40 years to see what the sky looked like when I first started astronomy as a teenager, I think I was spoiled........

B6B4410F-EA10-42FC-A2B9-1D88A49410A9.png.d015eac72647c6cd34eb993ea38baff6.png

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On 27/08/2020 at 08:01, chiltonstar said:

 The S. polar cap was distinct and the dark markings inc. the Herschel zone in the centre and Syrtis Major (?) just visible at the edge. Beautifully clear and rendered even sharper with the "cloud filter"!

Scope was 180 Mak, ADC, 7.2 - 21mm zoom and Nd filter.

Chris

Hi Chris, 

I observed Mars early on and Syrtis Major hadn't yet come onto the disk, so I missed that.  You mention something I've never heard of, "the Herschel Zone".  I haven't been able to find anything about it during a brief search, so I thought I'd ask you where and what it is on the disk? Hope you don't mind! ☺

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, mikeDnight said:

Hi Chris, 

I observed Mars early on and Syrtis Major hadn't yet come onto the disk, so I missed that.  You mention something I've never heard of, "the Herschel Zone".  I haven't been able to find anything about it during a brief search, so I thought I'd ask you where and what it is on the disk? Hope you don't mind! ☺

I use the Skysfari map (attached for the time I was observing) Mike, and the names are sometimes not quite the same as other maps I believe. I don't have a better one.

I had both my 102mm Vixen f13 frac and the 180 mak run up at the same time - an interesting comparison!

Chris

Screenshot_20200828-084422_SkySafari 6 Pro.jpg

Edited by chiltonstar

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4 hours ago, RobertI said:

 


Back in January this year, I wound the clock back 40 years to see what the sky looked like when I first started astronomy as a teenager, I think I was spoiled........

 

The joys of modern astronomy mapping... I've often done that and thought the same... And looked at the sky on the day I was born... Or is that venturing into astrology!!!??? 🤔😁

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1 hour ago, chiltonstar said:

I use the Skysfari map (attached for the time I was observing) Mike, and the names are sometimes not quite the same as other maps I believe. I don't have a better one.

I had both my 102mm Vixen f13 frac and the 180 mak run up at the same time - an interesting comparison!

Chris

Screenshot_20200828-084422_SkySafari 6 Pro.jpg

Thanks for that Chris. I wonder if Herschel on the Skysafari map is referring to the Herschel crater? I did observe the planet at roughly the same time as shown in the sketch below, although I note it in universal time rather than British summer time. It shows how visually things can look a little different. Syrtis Major would be on the limb, just coming onto the disk, but it wasn't so obvious as on your map. I'm now confused further by the 103° noted on the Skysafari image. Don't be surprised at that as I'm of that age where most things are beginning to confuse me, so I could be misunderstanding things. I worked out the meridian to be approximately 233° which matches the detail on safari with Hellas on the right, whereas 103° places it on the far side of the globe. I'm getting old!

1986433076_2020-08-2813_48_49.jpg.9592a5d5cdbb8d24bc4fbce576056145.jpg

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Many of us are "getting old" Mike! Seems to be a fact of life unfortunately.

The 103 degrees is the azimuth scale from the SkySafari map, not Martian coordinates I think. What I could see at 23:30 - 00:30 matched what was shown on the screenshot almost exactly, although I thought the features on Jupiter were a wee bit in error when I swung across to Saturn and Jupiter. It was interesting to compare the frac and mak views, which were pretty much according to theory. The frac view of Mars was bright, contrasty and apparently sharp, whereas the mak view (obstruction) was hazier at first until I adjusted the ADC and let the scope cool a bit more (15 mins), which then showed finer detail. It was more obvious on Saturn where Cassini was very dark with the frac, lighter with the mak, but at higher magnifications you could see that the apparent width of the feature was less with the mak. Assuming that the true width of Cassini is 0.5 arcsec, then I presume the apparent width with a 100mm frac is 1.2 arcsec, and 0.86 arcsec with a 180 Mak if the seeing is excellent.

Clear(er) skies!

Chris

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Posted (edited)

Great post, I've not had a go at Mars yet on this pass but I'm looking forward to giving it a go when it's up a at a more sociable time.

Edited by Paz

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19 hours ago, mikeDnight said:

Hi Chris, 

I observed Mars early on and Syrtis Major hadn't yet come onto the disk, so I missed that.  You mention something I've never heard of, "the Herschel Zone".  I haven't been able to find anything about it during a brief search, so I thought I'd ask you where and what it is on the disk? Hope you don't mind! ☺

I had also never heard that term/name before. Going by the image provided, I'm pretty confident in saying that I could see the Herschel Zone. Albeit as a fuzzy difference in colour rather than detailed features.

 

Cheers

 

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18 hours ago, mikeDnight said:

Thanks for that Chris. I wonder if Herschel on the Skysafari map is referring to the Herschel crater? I did observe the planet at roughly the same time as shown in the sketch below, although I note it in universal time rather than British summer time. It shows how visually things can look a little different. Syrtis Major would be on the limb, just coming onto the disk, but it wasn't so obvious as on your map. I'm now confused further by the 103° noted on the Skysafari image. Don't be surprised at that as I'm of that age where most things are beginning to confuse me, so I could be misunderstanding things. I worked out the meridian to be approximately 233° which matches the detail on safari with Hellas on the right, whereas 103° places it on the far side of the globe. I'm getting old!

1986433076_2020-08-2813_48_49.jpg.9592a5d5cdbb8d24bc4fbce576056145.jpg

Looks like Herschel is indeed referring to a crater Mike, zooming in allows you to tap it and show the info for it. This suggests a longitude of 129.89 for it; not sure if that helps or confuses more!!

AD674E08-F170-47B7-A735-C6AEFF88D45D.png

34B286EA-4F87-4C7E-B69F-3E9DC310254C.png

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Posted (edited)

Yes, Herschel on the SS map is the huge crater - by "zone", I was implying the region around the crater which is darkish. 

A large scale downloadable map of Mars with plenty of detail would be good - I for one prefer a paper chart at the eyepiece rather than a screen, but any flat projection struggles a bit with polar regions and becomes a bit difficult to interpret IMO.

Chris

Edited by chiltonstar
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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Stu said:

Looks like Herschel is indeed referring to a crater Mike, zooming in allows you to tap it and show the info for it. This suggests a longitude of 129.89 for it; not sure if that helps or confuses more!!

AD674E08-F170-47B7-A735-C6AEFF88D45D.png

34B286EA-4F87-4C7E-B69F-3E9DC310254C.png

 

 

 

I'm not sure if its of any interest but I've attached the grid I made from 2016 showing the features which match the BAA coordinates. Folding the map round to roughly show the CM at the time of the sketch, Syrtis Minor appears to the right. The grid is mirror reversed and so is only of use to refractor or Cass users, as it shows how features may appear through the eyepiece of a small aperture scope. Details are as exact as only roughly, almost, approximate allows, but useful to me all the same. If 129° were the meridian Olympus Mons would have been pretty much central. The cylindrical grid chart shows the polar regions as they appear through the telescope.☺

20200829_091956.thumb.jpg.705c95164aa74695c5b80961ad309ce5.jpg20200829_091907.thumb.jpg.ff4542d014b57d69a3e95173469e4ea0.jpg

In 2016 the northern hemisphere was tilted toward us. Looking at my 2016 globe from roughly the same angle as Mars now appears in 2020, the same meridian shows the features in the sketch, with Hellas on the lower right limb and Syrtis Major on the limb just coming onto the disk.

20200829_092304.thumb.jpg.0ace55779a8e2f5f7aec859e41971638.jpg

Edited by mikeDnight
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No way was your post pointless, the excitement when viewing anything in the night sky through a telescope or binoculars is amazing and makes you feel like a kid again, seeing things you've only seen in books or photos, I'll never forget the first time I saw Jupiter and 4 moons, cassini Division on Saturn, Mars, Venus and the dso's I've seen so far, just makes you want more each time, I get  the butterfly experience in stomach when viewing abd only really started in April this year, so much more to see and image, can't wait for Mars to get closer in October, clear skies everyone 😁

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Posted (edited)

The UK  is currently benefitting from being away from the main Jetstream, so you're getting very clear views (clouds permitting) - despite the ecliptic being at relatively low altitude.

We're currently in France, so our views of the planets are atrocious.Screenshot_20200829-110544.jpg.78815a3eb6ce423221881c32d3571ef3.jpg

https://www.netweather.tv/charts-and-data/jetstream

Edited by Gfamily

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, mikeDnight said:

 

 

 

I'm not sure if its of any interest but I've attached the grid I made from 2016 showing the features which match the BAA coordinates. Folding the map round to roughly show the CM at the time of the sketch, Syrtis Minor appears to the right. The grid is mirror reversed and so is only of use to refractor or Cass users, as it shows how features may appear through the eyepiece of a small aperture scope. Details are as exact as only roughly, almost, approximate allows, but useful to me all the same. If 129° were the meridian Olympus Mons would have been pretty much central. The cylindrical grid chart shows the polar regions as they appear through the telescope.☺

20200829_091956.thumb.jpg.705c95164aa74695c5b80961ad309ce5.jpg20200829_091907.thumb.jpg.ff4542d014b57d69a3e95173469e4ea0.jpg

In 2016 the northern hemisphere was tilted toward us. Looking at my 2016 globe from roughly the same angle as Mars now appears in 2020, the same meridian shows the features in the sketch, with Hellas on the lower right limb and Syrtis Major on the limb just coming onto the disk.

20200829_092304.thumb.jpg.0ace55779a8e2f5f7aec859e41971638.jpg

Tell you what Mike I absolutely love your sketches, I think they are far more representative of what a visual observer is likely to see through the eyepiece than some glossy photos. If you ever decide to sell copies of them I would be first in the que to buy one! Thanks for sharing and love that little Mars globe 😊

Edited by jock1958
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4 hours ago, mikeDnight said:

 

 

 

I'm not sure if its of any interest but I've attached the grid I made from 2016 showing the features which match the BAA coordinates. Folding the map round to roughly show the CM at the time of the sketch, Syrtis Minor appears to the right. The grid is mirror reversed and so is only of use to refractor or Cass users, as it shows how features may appear through the eyepiece of a small aperture scope. Details are as exact as only roughly, almost, approximate allows, but useful to me all the same. If 129° were the meridian Olympus Mons would have been pretty much central. The cylindrical grid chart shows the polar regions as they appear through the telescope.☺

20200829_091956.thumb.jpg.705c95164aa74695c5b80961ad309ce5.jpg20200829_091907.thumb.jpg.ff4542d014b57d69a3e95173469e4ea0.jpg

In 2016 the northern hemisphere was tilted toward us. Looking at my 2016 globe from roughly the same angle as Mars now appears in 2020, the same meridian shows the features in the sketch, with Hellas on the lower right limb and Syrtis Major on the limb just coming onto the disk.

20200829_092304.thumb.jpg.0ace55779a8e2f5f7aec859e41971638.jpg

Are there different coordinate systems Mike? This NASA reference puts Olympus Mons at 224.76 East and SkySafari says a similar 226 degrees, what’s the difference?

https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/MRO/multimedia/pia12992.html

0A648545-6CD4-4510-9410-E1B3BF53E55D.png

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