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Pixies

My first Mars and my first sketch - 01/09/2020

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With about a month to go to opposition and a month since my last clear night, I thought that I couldn't miss the chance of observing the red planet tonight, as all sources were indicating a clear night. I had my new Baader Hyperion zoom and barlow, plus a cute little University Optics 7mm ortho, I hadn't tried yet, so thinking tonight was the night, I set up around 10pm. I thought I'd get ready then have a little nap until later, when Mars would be in a good position to view.

Started with double-double and the seeing looked good. I could split them both at around x 85-90 and the collimation star test had reasonably stable diffraction rings - better than usual for here anyway. Then I looked up and saw the dreaded clouds. I went back inside and moaned online and had a beer.

01:00 and things were clearing up. I went back out and saw that Mars was visible from the bottom of the garden. It wasn't a great location, observing East right over the roof of the house, but beggars can't be choosers and I didn't want to risk waiting until 4-5 am for a better view. So I set up under the watchful eye of the cat, getting all the various EPs I thought would be useful, and settled down to find the best viewing setup. I tried the zoom, barlowed zoom, barlowed 12mm BST, but by far the best view was with the new 7mm ortho. I didn't try the 6mm or 4mm Circle-T orthos, though. Perhaps next time.

The view wasn't great at first, with the seeing poor at that lower angle and over the roof. The 40 deg FOV at 170x meant I was constantly nudging the dob, but it was pretty much just Azimuth movement that was needed, with the occasional Alt nudge, so I could get on with just observing relatively OK. I'm not a seasoned planetary viewer, but have heard enough to know that I needed to settle down and just do the time at the eyepiece. I kept getting momentary glimpses of dark bands and a white cap - the once pale disk slowly shifting into a creamy orange with some surface detail. I guess most of you are all familiar with what happens but it was fascinating how the details started to slowly emerge. Suddenly I got the urge to record what I was seeing. No hope for a picture, so I decided to do my first sketch.

Completely unprepared, I went back inside, grabbed some printer paper and hastily drew some circles around the base of the empty beer can. With red head torch on dimmest setting I sat down again and started to mark down the darker areas. By 02:00 I was happy and started winding up. When I looked back up, I saw that the Pleiades had risen above the house, so quickly grabbed the 30mm 2" EP for a quick view.

Here's my first sketch (coloured in now). As I said, I hadn't really considered ever doing one before, so not exactly sure of the correct format, so forgive any naivety.  I still need to try and work out what I saw and how it compares to Sky Safari's representation. Fingers crossed I haven't got it completely wrong....

 

 

 

 

IMG_20200901_030320165.jpg

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Great report pixies and a good sketch aswell all the info is on there and gives you a good record for next time, it must of been an awesome sight to see Mars after a month of no clear skies, I'm like you still new at all this astronomy but enjoy every moment I can get on the scope, clear skies 

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Great sketch !

I was observing Mars at the same time last night and you have captured the subtle surface features as they were showing very nicely I think :smiley:

You are so right about needing to spend some time at the eyepiece to allow the detail to emerge as well. "The more you look, the more you see" is spot on for planetary observing.

 

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Very nice sketch!

I managed to grab a look at Mars around 4am today, just before the clouds rolled in, and your sketch is very close to what I saw. The dark central band band must be Terra Tyrrhena and  Cimmeria.  Probably the band near the south polar cap is Terra Sirenum but I'm not sure. The dark bit rising on the east limb looks like Syrtis Major, at 4am it was more prominent for me. 

Its amazing to see these details from so far away, to me it feels like being one of those 19-th century astronomers staring at Mars and trying to guess what the surface features are. Some of this mystery is gone now with all the probes out there.

Clear skies!

Nikolay

 

Edited by Nik271
got Terra Sirenum wrong I think
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I saw this great post by @Dave which has an image of Mars taken the same night as my sketch.

It's from a few hours later and it has rotated slightly, but I'm very happy that I've managed to actually catch some accuracy:

image.png.d3c2564faf21f4fb1bc06485351a86dc.png

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On 01/09/2020 at 03:34, Pixies said:

With about a month to go to opposition and a month since my last clear night, I thought that I couldn't miss the chance of observing the red planet tonight, as all sources were indicating a clear night. I had my new Baader Hyperion zoom and barlow, plus a cute little University Optics 7mm ortho, I hadn't tried yet, so thinking tonight was the night, I set up around 10pm. I thought I'd get ready then have a little nap until later, when Mars would be in a good position to view.

Started with double-double and the seeing looked good. I could split them both at around x 85-90 and the collimation star test had reasonably stable diffraction rings - better than usual for here anyway. Then I looked up and saw the dreaded clouds. I went back inside and moaned online and had a beer.

01:00 and things were clearing up. I went back out and saw that Mars was visible from the bottom of the garden. It wasn't a great location, observing East right over the roof of the house, but beggars can't be choosers and I didn't want to risk waiting until 4-5 am for a better view. So I set up under the watchful eye of the cat, getting all the various EPs I thought would be useful, and settled down to find the best viewing setup. I tried the zoom, barlowed zoom, barlowed 12mm BST, but by far the best view was with the new 7mm ortho. I didn't try the 6mm or 4mm Circle-T orthos, though. Perhaps next time.

The view wasn't great at first, with the seeing poor at that lower angle and over the roof. The 40 deg FOV at 170x meant I was constantly nudging the dob, but it was pretty much just Azimuth movement that was needed, with the occasional Alt nudge, so I could get on with just observing relatively OK. I'm not a seasoned planetary viewer, but have heard enough to know that I needed to settle down and just do the time at the eyepiece. I kept getting momentary glimpses of dark bands and a white cap - the once pale disk slowly shifting into a creamy orange with some surface detail. I guess most of you are all familiar with what happens but it was fascinating how the details started to slowly emerge. Suddenly I got the urge to record what I was seeing. No hope for a picture, so I decided to do my first sketch.

Completely unprepared, I went back inside, grabbed some printer paper and hastily drew some circles around the base of the empty beer can. With red head torch on dimmest setting I sat down again and started to mark down the darker areas. By 02:00 I was happy and started winding up. When I looked back up, I saw that the Pleiades had risen above the house, so quickly grabbed the 30mm 2" EP for a quick view.

Here's my first sketch (coloured in now). As I said, I hadn't really considered ever doing one before, so not exactly sure of the correct format, so forgive any naivety.  I still need to try and work out what I saw and how it compares to Sky Safari's representation. Fingers crossed I haven't got it completely wrong....

 

 

 

 

IMG_20200901_030320165.jpg

Great sketch. My drawing is rubbish. That's why I image... 

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That is a very good drawing @Pixies 👍

You caught the phase, the polar cap, Syrtis Major, and the dew/frost/haze on the morning side of the planet.

Edited by dweller25
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47 minutes ago, dweller25 said:

That is a very good drawing @Pixies 👍

You caught the phase, the polar cap, Syrtis Major, and the dew/frost/haze on the morning side of the planet.

Thanks

I knew my Art O-level wouldn't go to waste!

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7 hours ago, Pixies said:

Thanks

I knew my Art O-level wouldn't go to waste!

You might be laughing, but your observing skill is undeniable. Many people struggle greatly with Mars and some see little or nothing at all. You though have captured detail beautifully. I hope you keep sketching it throughout this apparition and end up with a great visual record to look back on. EXCELLENT!

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Great improvisation using a beer can, and you have captured the main features very accurately, did the contents of the can help!  Well done.  Cheers  Chris.  

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I must have done something very similar last Friday and stayed out till 2am. Great report and wish I could sketch like that. Hoping for another dabble with Mars Sunday night by the look of it. 

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