Sunday, July 8, 2018

Dusty Mars is Still a Visual Treat

I took advantage of another night of good seeing on Tuesday morning, July 3rd.  Nights of good seeing seem to be few and far between this year.  Don't want to miss any if it can be avoided.

It was still oppressively warm and humid when I brought the telescope outside.   I was thankful when the cooler air finally made it over the top of the hill upon which our house sits.  It did bring a light layer of fog along with it, coating everything with dew.  Whoever would have thought that astronomy gear needs to be waterproof!? 🙂

With my handy Celestron Zoom and Shorty Barlow, I did some visual observing of Mars.  I do have better eyepieces, but the Zoom is so easy to use;  Just rotate it left or right to dial the magnification that the seeing supports!  

Celestron Zoom, Orion Shorty Barlow, and cat fur.
Mars was a beautiful bright reddish-orange disk and while the dust storm was obscuring most of its surface features, the southern polar cap was visible. 

Yep.  The dust storm was still raging.  Marvin the Martian is going to have quite the mess to clean up when things calm down.  I hope he remembers to sweep the solar panels of the Opportunity rover

After taking in all of the visual beauty, I put the imager at prime focus and again captured many tens of thousands of video frames. 

This was one of the resultant images, courtesy of AutoStakkert!3 and RegiStax 6.    

Dusty Mars, July 3rd 2018 at 0256.
The dust storm was still evident, making it a challenge to discern features that should be visible by now, so near to opposition.

The Virtual Planet Atlas shows this as what should have been visible.

Virtual Planet Atlas for July  3rd, 2018.
Next week?  More Mars.  Dusty or not!

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