Sunday, July 1, 2018

Dusty Mars, Saturn, and the Moon!

Excellent seeing conditions for planetary observing Saturday morning!

On Friday, I got an email alert from the nice people at the Clear Sky Alarm Clock letting me know that upcoming conditions were favorable for astronomy.

They were right!

I used the opportunity to capture images of dusty Mars, Saturn, and the Moon!

The Moon

First, the Moon.  It was bright.  It was 96.1% illuminated, just 10° away from Mars in the sky, and practically flooding my telescope's optical tube assembly with unwanted light while I was observing.

I suffered through it. 🙂 And, I took advantage of the good seeing; I put the 2x barlow on the imager and used it to scan the Moon's face.  I thought that this crater was interesting so I captured its image.

Crater Langrenus
Next, Saturn.  To be followed by Dusty Mars . . .


It is Saturn's turn to be at opposition.  

So, I pointed the telescope at it and captured a few tens of thousands of image frames.  While I missed the Seeliger Effect, it appeared to me that the rings were really bright.  I didn't compensate for that when I set the gain of the imager and consequently, the rings appear to be overexposed in my image.  I think I could have captured more ring detail, otherwise.  I'm going to try some deliberately low gain settings next time to see what happens.
Saturn, June 30th 2018.  Three days after opposition.
Dusty Mars

Inconveniently,  there is a planet-encircling dust storm raging on Mars now.  There are some really impressive Nasa images of the storm here.

Marvin the Martian evidently has something to hide.  Hence, the obscuring storm.

I was dreading the possibility of a dust storm during Mars' opposition.  So far, however, it is turning out to be an interesting thing of its own.  I was looking forward capturing images of Mars' features as Mars approached opposition.  Now, I'm looking forward to capturing images of the feature-obscuring dust storm.

Look at this fantastic image of Mars that I captured Saturday morning.  Artifacts from the dust storm are clearly evident!

Dusty Mars, June 30th at 0330 EST.
Next week?  Earth clouds willing, more dusty Mars images!


  1. Wonderful!! Hope the skies are dark and the stars are bright!!

  2. I was disappointed about the dust storm, too, but not anymore. Haha, Marvin the Martian cracks me up!

    1. Now if we could only have an episode where Marvin the Martian meets the Tasmanian Devil, that would be really fun!


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