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Go Back   IceInSpace > General Astronomy > Celestial and Astronomical Events

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  #1  
Old 11-05-2018, 10:01 AM
glend (Glen)
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Mars Opposition in July, Getting Ready

With Mars approaching Opposition at the end of July, time to start planning for this event. As this Opposition will have Mars closer (and thus larger) than recent previous Oppositions, and as it will not be equaled or better until about 2050 (when I will be long gone), I think this one is pretty special. Thinking both visually and imaging, what is your take on equipment, etc to best capture this event in its best detail.

Obviously Seeing conditions will be important, and hopefully the first weekend of Qld Astrofest, will deliver that Seeing.

So what are you dusting off or acquiring, for this event. Interested in your views on boosting magnification with high X barlow, and good visual EPs for long focal length detail delivery. Cameras? Do they have to be high frame rate, lucky imaging variety, Ala ASI but which one? Better detail resolution with mono files but stacking RGB frames - rotation Issues?

Last edited by glend; 11-05-2018 at 11:13 AM.
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  #2  
Old 11-05-2018, 12:00 PM
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Atmos (Colin)
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I had my 4” out last week at 170x in binoviewers in so-so seeing and there was still quite a bit to be seen.
When it gets closer I’ll definitely be taking out my Mewlon.

I do plan on getting an AZ-EQ6 for this season to make visual viewing more comfortable.
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  #3  
Old 12-05-2018, 01:30 AM
Saturnine (Jeff)
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This is what I have been seeing and imaging earlier this week. Have been mostly using an 127mm Apo and 203mm newt.
Image was taken with the 203mm f6 newt, EQ6, 2.5x Powermate ZWO290mc. Best 500 of 3000 frames at 640 X 480 res.
Will be using the same gear until I get my 250mm newt finished sometime in the next month and then compare results with the 203mm as to what will be used most of the time. Hope the winter seeing conditions are kind to us, probably the last good opposition for me in my astronomical life so want to make the most of it.

Cheers
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  #4  
Old 12-05-2018, 08:52 AM
astro744
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glend View Post
With Mars approaching Opposition at the end of July, time to start planning for this event. As this Opposition will have Mars closer (and thus larger) than recent previous Oppositions, and as it will not be equaled or better until about 2050 (when I will be long gone),
No need to wait until 2050 as the 2035 opposition is a little closer than 2018. (Second last figure, i.e. 24.3, 24.5, 25.0)

Mars 2018 Jul 27 15:13 20.54427 -25.49794 24.3 -2.8
Mars 2035 Sep 16 5:39 23.70924 -8.03714 24.5 -2.8
Mars 2050 Aug 14 17:52 21.76552 -20.73001 25.0 -2.9

In 2020 Mars will be 22.3 arc sec. and in 2033 it will be 21.9 arc sec. Every 15 to 17 years is a good opposition.


Data from U.S. Naval Observatory MICA program, Willmann-Bell publisher.
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  #5  
Old 12-05-2018, 11:01 AM
Startrek (Martin)
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I will be using my 2 telescopes last week of July for the Mars opposition down at my holiday house ( good semi dark location )

Viewing ( dependant on seeing conditions)
10” dob with Televue Delos 4.5mm or 6mm, alternatively Delos 10mm with 2 x Televue powermate
6” f6 reflector on HEQ5 mount with Delos 4.5mm or Delos 6mm with 2 x Televue powermate

Imaging
6” f6 reflector on HEQ5 mount with either 5 x Televue powermate ,4 x Televue powermate or 2 x Televue powermate through a stock Canon 600D with 35mm / 50mm extension adaptors

Let’s hope for clear skies that week
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  #6  
Old 18-05-2018, 12:11 PM
SkyWatch (Dean)
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I had a look last week with my 4" refractor. I didn't stay up late enough to see it high in the sky, but even at 20 degree altitude in average seeing I could make out pretty much as shown by Jeff's excellent shot. Not as sharp of course! Syrtis Major and a polar cap were clearly visible.

A good scope with more aperture will give you more resolution, but a 4" does the job pretty well, even at the current size of around 13".

Worth a look with any scope really..

All the best,

Dean
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  #7  
Old 18-05-2018, 12:33 PM
Saturnine (Jeff)
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Have been fortunate to have mostly clear skies and reasonable to very good seeing this week. Sleep deprivation is catching up but have to make the most of the good conditions, glad I don't have to work any more.
Been using the 203mm newt and 127mm apo and enjoying teasing out recognisable features such as Syrtis Major visually plus taking more avis'. Still delighted that it is possible to see features on something that is still over 75 Mkm away and only 12 arc sec app dia. July and August should be very interesting if the weather co-operates and Mars doesn't develop major dust storms.
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  #8  
Old 21-05-2018, 12:57 PM
sil
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I think it'll be very close to its peak size of july 27 for a few weeks either side, not a rapid change in size/brightness, so should be lots of opportunity to try different configurations and settings for photography or just do visual or pray for clear skies. No need to wait until the day. Mars is currently good for late night and slowly moving into evening hours in the coming months so start trying the limits of your gear now with Jupiter in early evening and fine tune and plan for what you want from Mars.
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  #9  
Old 21-05-2018, 01:22 PM
glend (Glen)
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A wonderfully clear week here. Dedicated last night to the iStar 127mm f12 (1524mm fl) on the three big planets currently overhead. Jupiter and Saturn were wonderfully sharp and stable until I added my 2x Televue Barlow - when things got fuzzy. I had tried the Edge Hd8 the night before ( at 2032mm fl) and had the same result. The iStar certainly gave a better view than the Edge HD8 at native focal length. Mars was the most disappointing of the three but I suspect it had to do with altitude, with Mars being only 40 degrees high compared to observing Jupiter and Saturn above 60 degrees. Think I need to get an Orange filter too.
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  #10  
Old 21-05-2018, 11:51 PM
Saturnine (Jeff)
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Indeed Mars will be + 20" from late June until early Sept, so plenty of time to aim the telescope at the planet with the disc at an good size.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sil View Post
I think it'll be very close to its peak size of july 27 for a few weeks either side, not a rapid change in size/brightness, so should be lots of opportunity to try different configurations and settings for photography or just do visual or pray for clear skies. No need to wait until the day. Mars is currently good for late night and slowly moving into evening hours in the coming months so start trying the limits of your gear now with Jupiter in early evening and fine tune and plan for what you want from Mars.
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  #11  
Old 27-05-2018, 04:11 PM
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Zubenel (Wes)
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The amount of detail visible will be governed by the transparency and seeing. So when Mars climbs high and the see go sub arc second ( not likely but let me optimistic) I'll have a go with my 6mm Radian in a 2 x barlow through 'Zamar'. That'll give me 846 x !!! I had difficulty finding an accurate mars map 2 years ago. Any suggestions??
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Old 13-06-2018, 01:29 PM
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ZeroID (Brent)
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The Lunt @ F7 is not a great planetary but I've managed to squeeze a 2" 2 x Barlow lens into the optical train to get F14. I say squeezed because to get it to focus I've buried it inside the Barlow body as it has to contend with the Filter wheel distance as well. Jupiter is hanging around so worth having a try at that and maybe even a galaxy or two. I can bump the gain up to reduce exposure time a bit.

Now just need my cloud punch to knock a few holes in the grey ceiling..
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  #13  
Old 19-06-2018, 02:45 PM
Uncle_Martin (Igor)
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Dust Storms on Mars?

Is Mars suffering a dust storm at the moment?

The season stretches from April through September, according to Jeff Beish of ALPO.

I've been using a Celestron 8" reflector and have easily seen the south polar cap and major features, but over the last 2-3 nights, the cap has virtually disappeared into a general haze and I'm convinced that I should be seeing more features than I am.

I am using a W23A orange-red filter to enhance contrast and Sydney skies notwithstanding, something's amiss.

Last edited by Uncle_Martin; 19-06-2018 at 02:47 PM. Reason: Too much inter-paragraph space
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Old 19-06-2018, 05:54 PM
Saturnine (Jeff)
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Yes , there is a large dust storm in progress. Let's hope it dissipates quickly and doesn't spoil this oppositions views.
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Old 28-06-2018, 11:35 AM
sil
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Dust storm certainly explains why I seem to be losing detail. Is there a good mars weather source I can consult for my image times to help me work out if its dust or my focus that is the problem?

I've been taking captures for the past month, making adjustments to my setup and the event gave me the push I needed to pick up a new ZWO to improve my images for this and other targets later on. With Jupiter Saturn and Mars and the moon fairly easy targets for me at civilised hours its been a good time to experiment with settings and getting gear and technique tweaked. I've taken my best images of those planets now with the newer cam. Still havent tried adding my powermate and adc into the train yet but I should soon. Its overall a very good season for data on MJS.

A few weeks ago when I started imaging these planets regularly I felt rushed and wasn't confident about my setup and settings aside from my physical issues. But now I've refined and improved things I can be out and imaging faster with better results and feel more relaxed about what I've got. Quick processing I know Ive got some super crisp shots that I am very pleased with already so the pressure is off now and I can get outside and relax into the process and spend a bit more time each session to experiment to get the mount stable and focus more spot on. I'm comfortable trusting firecaptures focus helper now instead of just my eyes. (hoping to order electric focuser soon too, so no more scope wobble during focusing)
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Old 28-06-2018, 01:51 PM
glend (Glen)
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The latest rover photos do not look promising for opposition detail this year. You could almost think Mars doesn't want us to see it. What is going on under all that dust? Has the Stargate been activated?

Last edited by glend; 29-06-2018 at 06:58 AM.
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  #17  
Old 28-06-2018, 11:39 PM
Uncle_Martin (Igor)
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Dust on Mars - Fog on Earth

That's right, folks. Sydney has just settled into a fog halfway through my observation tonight.

Over the past week I have done guerilla observations of Mars, basically coming home from working a night shift. I take the scope out of the garage, and my eyepieces and sketch my way through a half hour observation, usually from about 0545-0615 local time. I put things away as dawn begins to lighten the eastern sky and crawl into bed.

It's so quick and time so short that I don't even connect up the GoTo mount to power but just physically push the scope so that the planet gets to pass across my eyepiece vision repeatedly.

The south polar cap has returned but other detail remains elusive. I carefully mark out pencil smudges to record it on paper. There might still be a dust haze blanket, as I saw an aggregate of faint detail suspiciously like Syrtis Major and surrounds. W23A and W25 filters are needed to bring out max contrast.

Tonight I have the luxury of consulting MarsPreviewer to find out which face I'll be trying to see.

My Philips ToUCamPro is out of commission, since OS software upgrades rendered it incompatible with my laptop (thank you, Philips, the never-buy-again-brand and thank you Bill Gates) so it's back to 19th century methods of recording observations.
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  #18  
Old 29-06-2018, 07:45 PM
Uncle_Martin (Igor)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zubenel View Post
I had difficulty finding an accurate mars map 2 years ago. Any suggestions??
Buy 'Aust. Sky and Telescope' off the newsstand (July 2018 issue) which has both a good map ensemble and handy hints on observation. Useful Resources at the end of the article include a link to ALPO Mars Section (alpo-astronomy.org/marsblog) etc.

The BinTel shop in Sydney (and online) offers a good glossy colour folder / booklet of Mars maps.
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Old 15-07-2018, 01:35 AM
Uncle_Martin (Igor)
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Mars Dust Storm 1, Surface Details 0

Anyone else having problems seeing features on Mars?

I've returned after a couple of weeks almost, hoping that the dust storm has cleared. It wasn't meant to be planet-wide.

Tonight, despite excellent seeing and a really big planetary disc, all I can spy is the South Polar Cap and its outline, the limb haze and a suggestion of markings close to the equator. Not sure what I should be seeing as MarsPreviewer II don't work no more on updated MS systems but chances are, I should see something more!

I've used Wratten filters W25, W23A and W80A to max the contrast and squeeze out any detail for my questing eyes and pencil and paper.

Course, dew quickly forms on my primary mirror making things a bit harder. It's a cold night!
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  #20  
Old 15-07-2018, 08:39 AM
astro744
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Last night at about 8:45pm Meridiani Planum was approx. on the CM and Syrtis Major off to the side. These features are normally dark but we're at least showing as a hint of through the dust storm. In a week Syrtis Major shall be on the CM at about the same time.

I was using a C9.25 and Tele Vue 10mm Radian with Tele Vue Bandmate Mars Type A, Bandmate Mars Type B and Bandmate Planetary filter in a filter slide. The natural view was bright and low contrast and the filters made a dramatic improvement. My preference was for the Type A, (very natural but more contrast) followed by the Planetary, (love the pinkish hue on the Martian soil). The Type B is normally my favourite but this on a refractor. It is similar to orange #21 but far more efficient and gives a bright contrasty image with an overall orange appearance.

You will find that once the dust clears the dark features have enough contrast that filters are not essential but still do provide an improvement. Last night all filters gave better contrast than no filter but none are magic and won't penetrate through dust. A hint of the two features I mentioned was visible without filters but I preferred the view with as it wasn't as bright. More magnification is normally recommended to bring the brightness down but the local seeing here did not support it last night.
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