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 Post subject: Mars, August 15, 2018
PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2018 11:01 am 
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Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2011 12:53 pm
Posts: 300
Location: Maple Shade, NJ
It was pretty hazy on Wednesday night, 15-Aug-2018, and Mars wasn’t the brilliant beacon it’s been recently because of the haze, but I thought this might afford some decent seeing. So, I decided to get out my 80 mm, f/6 apo refractor for a quick look from the backyard around 11:30 pm EDT (transit was at 11:35 pm). Mars was about 23.3 arc seconds apparent diameter, just an arc second less than its maximum this opposition.

Using an Explore Scientific 4.7 mm, 82 deg eyepiece yielding 102x and a 48 arc minute true field of view, Mars looked steady (i.e., seeing was at least good, if not very good). I used a diagonal, so the view was correct vertically, reversed left-to-right.

I haven’t seen Mars in a few weeks, and back then with my 130 mm apo refractor, there was minimal detail visible due to the dust storm. Last night, I didn’t look at a Mars surface feature utility beforehand so I wouldn’t taint my perception of the eyepiece view.

Despite the relatively small aperture and low magnification, I quickly saw some detail. There was a darkish, inverted T-shaped feature just left (west) of the central meridian. The horizontal portion of the “T” was below the equator and below that, there was a disc-like area that was a bit lighter in color than the rest of the non-dark surface. Finally, there was a whitish patch along the bottom limb, a tad left of center. However, its visibility varied with the momentary seeing, and it periodically showed a dark rim at its upper edge. I’m not a Martian surface feature expert, but I suspected the darkish vertical extension was Syrtis Major, the lighter disc was Hellas, and of course, the South Polar Cap was at the bottom limb.

Afterwards, when I opened WinJUPOS for Mars at the time of observation and a refractor+diagonal orientation, I was pleasantly surprised to see a good match with my eyepiece view. It also corresponded with S&T’s Mars Profiler utility, which confirmed my suspected identities above. The Mars Profiler indicated Mare Tyyrrhenum and Mare Serpentis formed the darkish horizontal band below Syrtis Major, perhaps extending to Sinus Sebaeus and Sinus Meridiani towards the east.

It certainly looks like the obscuring effects of the Martian dust storm are subsiding. Next time, I’ll get out the 130 mm refractor for a better view. Mars will drop below 20 arc seconds diameter after September 5.


Joe Stieber

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