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HollyHound

First time on Mars

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Well, after many weeks of being super busy back at work (remotely), I finally managed to get an hour last night to view Mars for the first time properly. This is not a sophisticated report, no sketches or images, but for me very much a first 😁

A break appeared in the clouds around midnight, and Mars was reasonably high above the trees, so got both the StellaMira 80mm f/10 and Mak 127, loaded up with various eyepieces, giving magnifications between 100x and 250x. Keeping the magnification below 150x seemed to work best, as anything higher tended to give a mushy ball (possibly as it's still low in the sky). For reference, Jupiter and Saturn (which are now quite low) were not as clear as the last I observed them about a month ago.

Through the Mak 127, it was a really lovely red disc, slightly mushy with hints of some darkness and a small white blob near the bottom. Switching to the StellaMira, there was a marked sharpening of the image and I was able to (just) make out faint dark marks, but the white area at the bottom stood out much more clearly... I believe I have seen the polar ice cap, which was an absolute first for me and something I've wanted to see since I was a teenager 😀

I'm going to try and get out more often and either much later or indeed very early in the morning, as I've heard it should be more stable air and of course it will be higher 👍Hoping for as many clear nights as possible, to enjoy this planet, especially as it's going to be as close as possible for a good many years!

Cheers

Gary

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Nice report! Mars is certainly spectacular at the moment. You have some great planetary scopes there, very interested to see how you get on with the Stella Mira so looking forward to more reports. 👍

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That's a nice write up Gary. It's not unusual for Mars to appear as a mushy ball, and for surface detail to be barely discernable. With patience though, fleeting glimpses of intricate detail often appears during moments of steady seeing. It's a good idea to jot these down in the form of a rough sketch, as you can then build up a better representation of what's actually on show. One tip while observing any planet, but very important when observing Mars, is to refocus your scope every minute or so. This is because the planet rapidly defocuses itself as it rises due to the differing depths of the earths undulating atmosphere.

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21 hours ago, HollyHound said:

Well, after many weeks of being super busy back at work (remotely), I finally managed to get an hour last night to view Mars for the first time properly. This is not a sophisticated report, no sketches or images, but for me very much a first 😁

A break appeared in the clouds around midnight, and Mars was reasonably high above the trees, so got both the StellaMira 80mm f/10 and Mak 127, loaded up with various eyepieces, giving magnifications between 100x and 250x. Keeping the magnification below 150x seemed to work best, as anything higher tended to give a mushy ball (possibly as it's still low in the sky). For reference, Jupiter and Saturn (which are now quite low) were not as clear as the last I observed them about a month ago.

Through the Mak 127, it was a really lovely red disc, slightly mushy with hints of some darkness and a small white blob near the bottom. Switching to the StellaMira, there was a marked sharpening of the image and I was able to (just) make out faint dark marks, but the white area at the bottom stood out much more clearly... I believe I have seen the polar ice cap, which was an absolute first for me and something I've wanted to see since I was a teenager 😀

I'm going to try and get out more often and either much later or indeed very early in the morning, as I've heard it should be more stable air and of course it will be higher 👍Hoping for as many clear nights as possible, to enjoy this planet, especially as it's going to be as close as possible for a good many years!

Cheers

Gary

Glad the Stella is doing a nice job. Just the tool for it. 

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Well, second time on Mars last night was even more successful... just had the Mak 127 out, mounted on the ScopeTech Zero, let it cool down for a couple of hours (probably overkill) and then from around midnight had a look for about an hour. Using just the TMB 8mm eyepiece and a Baader prism diagonal, I was able to get a lovely relatively stable view and this time the polar cap was very visible but also I could observe large dark patches across the planet surface 😃

I found that slewing it to the edge of view and then just letting it drift across, whilst keeping my eye on it at all times seemed to help this time. This is where the smooth slow motion and (almost) zero backlash of the ScopeTech really helped 👍

I think the next time I need to try this much later when Mars is at its highest (and of course it's getting slightly closer every day too apparently) and this time with the StellaMira again 🤞

Edited by HollyHound
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That’s a good read to me. I think we having very similar views and sessions. I also don’t mind a quick set up for an hour on planets.
 

Mars is staring to get slight bigger in our small scopes and I’m sure some time soon we’ll hit the jackpot. I’m following you now as I’m intrigued by your stellamira and what it’s going to do for you.
 

I’ve just set up for Jupiter and may get mars but I’m not staying up until 3am tonight. Done it a few days ago and I’m not getting any younger 🥺 

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Well, Jupiter too bright but could also see 2 white bands. 

Saturn best for a while, Cassini division, out band showed transparency which made it all look 3D. Shadow on the back of the rings from the planet and nice top third banding. 
 

Mars looking good but left me wanting more. Could see ice and black markings. Just wish I could get more contrast to make the black pop. 

Edited by Dantooine
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Good observations Gary and as you say it will get better as it approaches opposition and climbs higher.

Keep at it as some sides of Mars are much better than others 👍

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1 minute ago, dweller25 said:

Good observations Gary and as you say it will get better as it approaches opposition and climbs higher.

Keep at it as some sides of Mars are much better than others 👍

How much bigger will it get in the next few weeks. I’ve noticed the last months got better. 

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4 hours ago, dweller25 said:

Good observations Gary and as you say it will get better as it approaches opposition and climbs higher.

Keep at it as some sides of Mars are much better than others 👍

I didn't realise until a few weeks ago, that of course due to it's rotation, it will be possible to see different aspects each session 👍

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5 hours ago, Dantooine said:

How much bigger will it get in the next few weeks. I’ve noticed the last months got better. 

It's close to it's max now. I think it will be 1 arc second larger at opposition on the 13th October so basically the same size in the eyepiece.

 

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23 minutes ago, John said:

It's close to it's max now. I think it will be 1 arc second larger at opposition on the 13th October so basically the same size in the eyepiece.

 

Well I’m making the most of it. Every chance I get trying for the once in 2 years view. 

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Sunday night I had another hour, from around 1am, this time with the StellaMira 80mm f/10. Tried a range of magnifications from x100 to x200. Compared to the Mak 127, the view was a tiny bit more detailed, contrast was about the same, but the colours were definitely stronger.

Subjectively I think the view remained a little more stable, but this could have been the nights seeing conditions.

I seem to be getting better at pulling more detail from Mars each time, possibly the scope or possibly just familiarity/practice. Either way, it’s a lovely sight still and I like that it’s been a slightly different view each night 😀

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