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Underwhelming mars.


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Just checking out mars on my 8 inch dob, nicely collimated and it's pretty underwhelming. Not that clear and quite shimmery, I did notice though some object flying past fast while looking the last 30 mins..

Oh well keep it it, with I could see Jupiter but that's front of house and not moving scope out the front.😁

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That’s pretty much Mars to be honest… it’s very small in a telescope and its features are very subtle. 99% of the time you’ll be looking at a very small bright red ball. I use an 8” Dob too and you might (might) just about see whiteness on the pole in perfect conditions, but probably not. 

Jupiter and Saturn are wonderful though, rings and bands and giant red spots all visible in an 8” Dob, but still smallish. 

Below are some quick images I had of Mars and Jupiter this year. Mars was at its closest point, so it won’t be getting any bigger, but some detail is there. Plenty to see in the Jupiter pic though, with Callisto passing in front and Io and Ganymede either side. I’m a real beginner to astrophotography so these aren’t award winning pics, but gives you an idea on size. They are stacked so obviously won’t get it that clear through the eyepiece, but you can pick out those details still in good seeing. 
 

7B2F84BF-48C3-4029-B104-09D3B80C41F6.jpeg.b0f3cb014ddfe55d9e2f431183c7aeb5.jpeg

4DC787EF-D5BE-48B0-9129-F293627E2AB7.jpeg.4a750c1e9782ebd1b94d1a4a9cee3fb0.jpeg

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A lot depends on the seeing conditions with Mars. I’ve just been out with my 4” frac and although the seeing wasn’t great, I could see the frosting at the North Pole and two dark areas, clearly separated. I often wonder whether it is cooling or seeing which prevents better views. I know from comparing a top notch 4” apo side by side with an excellent 8” f8 dob on Mars under excellent conditions, that the dob was a long way ahead in terms of the visible detail. Keep at it, and make sure cooling and collimation are right, and avoid observing over houses and other heat sources if possible.

 

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12 minutes ago, Stu said:

A lot depends on the seeing conditions with Mars. I’ve just been out with my 4” frac and although the seeing wasn’t great, I could see the frosting at the North Pole and two dark areas, clearly separated.

This is what I saw last night with a 90mm mak. The seeing was very good, until the clouds rolled in.

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Amongst other targets I was observing Mars tonight. Seeing was decent and I could make out a now thin North Polar Hood and some albedo features to the south. But it wasn’t decent until Mars was nice and high in the sky, from about 8:30pm.

Mars also changes/rotates and with have more interesting faces. Look at the first picture. This is what it was like when I was viewing tonight. This picture doesn’t show the Polar Hood but even so it’s a bit “dull” even if you could actually see an image as detailed as that in your telescope. It’s better if you have a face like in the second image. For a start the contrast is far better. 

I’ve been observing Mars since July or it might have been as far back as late June. I’m new to this and it’s my first Mars opposition. Well, unless you include when I was a kid, back in mid 1970-something when I saw Mars in a small reflector. Then it was no more than a small reddish dot.

I too have an 8” Dob and I’ve been chuffed at what I’ve seen. From a southern ice cap back in the summer - even though it was tiny you couldn’t miss it - to some lively views of the North Polar Hood and strong albedo features (interesting faces of Mars) back in November. Then the North Polar Hood was far more extensive and very obvious. Even on poor nights you couldn’t miss it. On a few nights I could even see clouds. When you think what you are seeing, clouds on another planet from an urban back garden, it’s amazing.

I also have an EQ platform which means no, or only very occasionally nudging. I find that this helps me see more. I also always use a dew shield. Not just to keep dew at bay but to try and keep out any stray light. NOT getting use to the dark (eg I’ll look at the screen of my smartphone) helps with colour contrast. I also find that a variable polarising filter can make a difference too. 

Basically keep trying and have patience. Some nights have far better seeing & transparency than others. Try and observe when Mars is high. And it helps if Mars is in a position where it’s showing some good  details, eg nice albedo features, Polar Hood, ice cap and clouds. 

It’s also staring to get smaller now and no longer a complete disc.

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Edited by PeterStudz
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10 minutes ago, geoflewis said:

I was out imaging Mars tonight, so here's a quick look at what was on view.....

2023-01-16-2018_6-GDL-RGB-Mars_lapl4_ap16_F20000_Sharp_90_R6(1-1-5-20-40-1).jpg.a34b508c6b33b3cba334abea42f61fe5.jpg

Solis Lacus is looking good in your image Geof. I observed it earlier in the evening and immediately recognised the eye of Mars staring back at me. Love your image! 

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5 minutes ago, mikeDnight said:

Solis Lacus is looking good in your image Geof. I observed it earlier in the evening and immediately recognised the eye of Mars staring back at me. Love your image! 

Thanks Mike, it was my first time out since the night of 2/3 Jan. The sky looked superb and the seeing was equally good for once. Mars is shrinking quite noticably and has an obviously gibbous phase now. Having seen some observing reports on SGL from tonight, I probably should have swapped the camera for an eyepiece or two and done some visual, but I got very cold sitting under the stars for a couple of hours at the laptop, so was keen to get indoors in front of the log burner....

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6 hours ago, geoflewis said:

I was out imaging Mars tonight, so here's a quick look at what was on view.....

2023-01-16-2018_6-GDL-RGB-Mars_lapl4_ap16_F20000_Sharp_90_R6(1-1-5-20-40-1).jpg.a34b508c6b33b3cba334abea42f61fe5.jpg

Similar dark areas to what I was seeing in the 102 - except the L+R were reversed and the dark areas were much, much fainter - not much darker than the rest of Mars which was a lot more coloured. Surface features are at best subtle and not like images :wink2:

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7 hours ago, geoflewis said:

I was out imaging Mars tonight, so here's a quick look at what was on view.....

2023-01-16-2018_6-GDL-RGB-Mars_lapl4_ap16_F20000_Sharp_90_R6(1-1-5-20-40-1).jpg.a34b508c6b33b3cba334abea42f61fe5.jpg

Great image Geof.

I noticed a brightening on the limb marked up here, and also a small spot of brightness at the South Pole. Anyone else see these or was I imagining it?

31FAC5A1-15F7-4CF3-B79C-6247E5DE4904.jpeg

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19 minutes ago, Stu said:

Great image Geof.

I noticed a brightening on the limb marked up here, and also a small spot of brightness at the South Pole. Anyone else see these or was I imagining it?

31FAC5A1-15F7-4CF3-B79C-6247E5DE4904.jpeg

I was convinced that I could see a small dot of brightness on the South Pole too. It was far from obvious and came and went with the seeing. But made an impression as it was something new to me. Although I didn’t notice anything on the limb.

At some point ice is going to appear back at the poles. I was hoping that when the North Polar Hood thinned we might see some ice but not so. 

Edited by PeterStudz
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26 minutes ago, Stu said:

Great image Geof.

I noticed a brightening on the limb marked up here, and also a small spot of brightness at the South Pole. Anyone else see these or was I imagining it?

31FAC5A1-15F7-4CF3-B79C-6247E5DE4904.jpeg

Stu 

I was looking at Mars last night and could definitely see something at the south pole. The seeing was good for a couple of hours.

Cheers

Ian

 

 

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31 minutes ago, PeterStudz said:

I was convinced that I could see a small dot of brightness on the South Pole too. It was far from obvious and came and went with the seeing. But made an impression as it was something new to me. Although I didn’t notice anything on the limb.

At some point ice is going to appear back at the poles. I was hoping that when the North Polar Hood thinned we might see some ice but not so. 

 

8 minutes ago, lunator said:

Stu 

I was looking at Mars last night and could definitely see something at the south pole. The seeing was good for a couple of hours.

Cheers

Ian

 

 

Thanks Both. So it wasn’t imagined which is great. Peter, your description matches my observation, interesting! I do find that sometimes these ice features show visually but not always in images which is weird. I can just about see some brightening on the limb in Geoff’s image.

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12 minutes ago, Stu said:

 

Thanks Both. So it wasn’t imagined which is great. Peter, your description matches my observation, interesting! I do find that sometimes these ice features show visually but not always in images which is weird. I can just about see some brightening on the limb in Geoff’s image.

This is a good point. Even that smartphone image that I took back in December showed the clouds on the limb that we could both see, but it wasn’t as obvious on the image as when we both saw it visually. And visually it really did stand out - you couldn’t miss it. 

And another point. If I’m familiar with a target (I’ve looked at Mars a lot recently) then anything out of the ordinary tends to stand out when I see it. Even if very subtle. Eg if I didn’t know Mars, or hadn’t looked at it recently, I could well have missed that small dot of white at the South Pole. 

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8 hours ago, Stu said:

 

Thanks Both. So it wasn’t imagined which is great. Peter, your description matches my observation, interesting! I do find that sometimes these ice features show visually but not always in images which is weird. I can just about see some brightening on the limb in Geoff’s image.

Hi Stu and others that were observing Mars last night. I have just posted my fully processed series of three images from last night in case you want to take a look.....

There was definitely cloud on the western limb over Aurorae Sinus, but they either disipated or rotated out of view as the evening progressed. A similar story with clouds at the south pole too, though they seemed to hang around longer. I'm not seeing any evidence of a bright spot there, through if it was only seen fleetingly, it will likely be lost when stacking 60k frames.

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3 hours ago, geoflewis said:

Hi Stu and others that were observing Mars last night. I have just posted my fully processed series of three images from last night in case you want to take a look.....

There was definitely cloud on the western limb over Aurorae Sinus, but they either disipated or rotated out of view as the evening progressed. A similar story with clouds at the south pole too, though they seemed to hang around longer. I'm not seeing any evidence of a bright spot there, through if it was only seen fleetingly, it will likely be lost when stacking 60k frames.

Very interesting, thanks for that. I started viewing from about 20:30 and it’s possible that the clouds on the western limb had gone by then. Or, just as likely, I simply missed/didn’t see them.

The white spot right on the South Pole was just that - a circular white spot. It came and went with the seeing but was there for a while. I could still notice it when I finished at around 22:00. 

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