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Mars


The Warthog
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Knowing that tonight was likely to be the last look at Mars I will get in February (the forecast is for cloud, rain and snow all week), I set up the refractor tonight for a look. The seeing was excellent, but the transparency was poor and the sky overall a bit hazy. I put in my 4.8mm Nagler, but the best I could do was a fuzzy orangeish disc. With time, I was able to see from time to time a triangular dark patch on what I took to be the western limb.

I kept wondering why I had such a better time with Mars in the 2005 approach, then it occurred to me that in 2005, Mars had a disc of 20 arcseconds, and right now its about 12.

At 208x, my calculations tell me that Mars apparent size in the scope was about 40`, but I have a hard time believing that disc was bigger than the size of the full moon. I watched for about half an hour. I couldn`t see the clearly defined polar cap that I could see last time around, but I`m thinking it may not be there, as it`s spring in the Northern Hemisphere this time. I watched for about a half hour, and decided that because it was -2º and I wanted to move on, I should turn the scope on the Moon for the rest of my time outside.

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Mars always seems to be more susceptible to our atmosphere than Jupiter or Saturn - probably because it is much smaller and needs a lot more magnification. The North polar icecap is definitely there and looks like a white skull cap. I can also just make out a band of darker marking close to the south pole. I find that using coloured planetary filters enhances the detail somewhat, if you can get used to seeing a blue or a green Mars.

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"Arcseconds" is the angular measure of the size of the Martian disk. Depending on how close it gets, this will be anywhere between about 12 and 25 arcseconds. This is still very small. The Moon is about 30 arcminutes in diameter, or 1800 arcseconds.

Mars will get back to about 20 arcseconds in 2018 or so. Mars is about as high in the sky as it is likely to get at present. I was craning my neck to look through the finder at it last night. If you get it on a good night soon, that is as well as you will do this year.

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"Arcseconds" is the angular measure of the size of the Martian disk. Depending on how close it gets, this will be anywhere between about 12 and 25 arcseconds. This is still very small. The Moon is about 30 arcminutes in diameter, or 1800 arcseconds.

Mars will get back to about 20 arcseconds in 2018 or so. Mars is about as high in the sky as it is likely to get at present. I was craning my neck to look through the finder at it last night. If you get it on a good night soon, that is as well as you will do this year.

I see... I remember looking at mars a week or so before christmas and I was a clear disc with some polar cap ice and some darkish detail, it was amazing, this was in my 10mm eyepeice, so I bought a 5mm one hoping for a better look and it was just a blurry ball, hell, I don't even know if i'd call it a ball, it was just a smudge of orange light really..so when is the next time I will get as good a look as I had just before xmas '09?

I also had a look at jupiter before xmas too and was hoping to get a look in my 5mm EP but I can see that jupiter won't be up until about november.

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I've been having trouble observing Mars ever since I began astronomizing. Only vet had one good look, last October. The rest of the time it's just the old 'fuzzy disk' business. I must say so far Saturn has been much more rewarding,

although it's so frustrating how slowly it moves. Gonna be a few years before the rings are at a good angle!

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I see... I remember looking at mars a week or so before christmas and I was a clear disc with some polar cap ice and some darkish detail, it was amazing, this was in my 10mm eyepeice, so I bought a 5mm one hoping for a better look and it was just a blurry ball, hell, I don't even know if i'd call it a ball, it was just a smudge of orange light really..so when is the next time I will get as good a look as I had just before xmas '09?

I also had a look at jupiter before xmas too and was hoping to get a look in my 5mm EP but I can see that jupiter won't be up until about november.

You'll get a better look at Mars in 2012, I think it will be closer that time. Don't worry, Saturn is coming up, and there are lots of planetary nebulae and galaxies for your 5mm ep.

Mars disappoints more often than not.

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I been looking at it about twice a week since December. I had about 3 excellent nights (went past 300x with sharp detail), 5 or 6 good/decent and the other 10 to 20 ware really poor (only seen an out of focus ball even below 200x).

My short experience tells me you need to keep at it and check how it looks whenever possible.

Edited by pvaz
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yes good old mars ,don't you just love it.

it may be a difficult customer to observe at the best of times.

but it is the only other planet where we can observe actual surface features . + the fact it only pays us a visit every 2 years.

more than enough reason to keep plugging away at it. i have not observed it for almost a week now due to the weather.

and its getting smaller all the time;)

clear skies

lance

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