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Mars dust storm alert

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44 minutes ago, John said:

Just observing Mars again now with my Tak FC100.

That brighter streak / corridor though the darker terrain in the SW quadrant of the planets disk that Paul Abel draws in his 1st drawing in Jeremy's link above seems to be quite visible just now. It divides off a chunk of the darker area to the W of it.

Worth a look if you can get out, before that area rotates off the disk.

I'm supposed to be cooking supper now so I'm just grabbing a few moments at the scope while my other half is on the phone :angel12:


Just had a look.  I can see the gap but not the difference in shade. No doubt a combination of skies, scope and eyes.  Clear skies already clouding from the west so thanks for the heads up.


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A localised dust storm tends to change / blur the boundaries between the pale and darker areas (the later image below shows a localised dust storm) A more extensive dust storm considerably o

I am afraid the Earth cloud alert means I have little chance of seeing this Jeremy.  


Posted Images

I was observing Mars at 17.30 this evening with a SW 150ED and a 16" SCT and noticed a light streak bisecting the darker area at about 250x on both telescopes.  The seeing was fairly poor  but the occasional better moments showed it to be quite obvious.  I did wonder whether it was the widely reported and imaged dust storm, it seems as though it was which is pleasing.  The appearance was easier to see in the refractor due to the dimmer image providing better contrast, the SCT image was a bit on the bright side but did not improve with a ND filter.  The seeing rapidly went downhill and I closed down by 18.30.    🙂

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26 minutes ago, Stu said:

Thanks for the updated info John. Cloudy here so no chance again. Will try over the weekend hopefully.

Actually I’ve just seen it’s clear outside, but too tired to put a scope out now. I suspect this feature has rotated off the disk now, is that right? Is it best caught early at the moment?

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12 minutes ago, Stu said:

Actually I’ve just seen it’s clear outside, but too tired to put a scope out now. I suspect this feature has rotated off the disk now, is that right? Is it best caught early at the moment?

It's cloudy here now so I can't check on the current state of affairs but I figure early evening is the best time. The area which the dust storm seems to be affecting moves westwards as the planet rotates and could well be mostly out of sight over a couple of hours looking at the simulators.

I've just read a report from early this evening on the CN forum which described a pale "finger" bisecting the darker areas diagonally from the SW limb, which sounds similar.

These are dynamic things though so the shape / extent could well change over the coming hours and days.



Edited by John
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I got the first chance to use my shiny new 127 mak this evening, clear sky from 6.45 pm until nearly 8pm when the clouds rolled in. The conditions were too poor for my 8mm EP to be useful, but the 12.5mm cheap plossl and an equally cheap orange filter and persistence got me some decent glimpses of the Red Planet.

Having written my notes up, and compared what I thought I saw with the mars mapper , I was doubting my eyes, but the three roughly triangular dark shapes I noted accord pretty well with the flipped image John posted . Wow, did I really just (intermittently) see traces of a dust storm on Mars ? ! :icon_bounce:

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On 18/11/2020 at 17:02, JeremyS said:

Thanks Jeremy, 

I just saw the latest image on your link, (here  https://britastro.org/node/25060 ) and was chuffed to bits to find that that image was very much the view I had last night, adjusted for refractor/diagonal view (19th November at c10.00pm) although not nearly so clear, hardly surprising since my scope is 128mm aperture and the imager's (Martin) scope was a 440mm!

I used a newly acquired Orion no.21 Orange Red filter and it really did help the contrast noticeably. Also, the seeing was better than it has been recently. My observations were made with my FS128, and Revelation Binoviewer with barlowed Morpheus eyepieces to give just over 200x.

I should add that I didn't see the storm but the land mass was definitely clearly visible👍


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1 hour ago, davidc135 said:

Above is a sketch taken 2 days ago with an 8'' sct in so-so seeing. Mag x160. The sw (proceeding) finger was prominent. Interesting to follow any changes to come.   David

I wonder if other changes are underway? I had a good look at Mars later on last night after the storm area had cleared the disk*, and I had the distinct impression that the overall colour of Mars was slightly different than it was say a couple of weeks ago, more a sort of peachy tint rather than the yellow-brown colour near opposition. It would be interesting to know what sort of colour shift you get if dust levels build up in the atmosphere?


*180 Mak at x180 to x250. Near excellent seeing.

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