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Martian mind game, 29/9/2020


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"What a rubbish night"! At least that's what I thought it would be as I glimpsed Mars barely visible through the clouds. Anyhow, I set the refractor up on its mount, aimed at the dim orange dot hidden in the depths of murk, and was greeted with a surprisingly steady and detailed view. So in my mind it wasn't worth looking at, but Mars had other ideas.  As on most occasions I made a sketch. Initially the southern hemisphere looked a uniform grey, but as often happens during sketching, subtle detail began to reveal itself. There was no doubt right from the start that Syrtis Major and the giant impact crater Hellas were the main stars of the show, but Mars was trying to trick me. Because of the large disk and -18° tilt, detail that often looks subdued appeared more intense. In the sketch below you'll see Syrtis minor pretending its Margaretifer Sinus, and Mare Cemmerium pretending its Sinus Sabaeus with a dark triangular feature terminating the arm that for all the world looks like Sinus Meridiani. To confuse matters even more, there is a bright circular area above Syrtis minor that gives the illusion of being the impact crater Argyre. It's a lie! Those little green guy's are having a laugh!  Argyre is the bright spot on the left upper limb with Sinus Sabaeus to the left of Syrtis Major, while Sinus Meridiani hasn't yet come into view. The orange orchar  northern hemisphere was not uniform in intensity, and where the tonal boundaries meet there was an illusion of grey tails leading from the darker north/south divide and extending northward.

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Funny enough Mike, I did the same thing on the same night.
It was damp, misty and a smeared sky but had some good on/off seeing.

Sat for an hour with the Vixen on Mars and what an hour it was.
did a terrible sketch myself, nothing like your fine rendering.
 

Also sat at 7mm with the 7 XW, tried more, but was over doing it for the conditions.

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