Sunday, August 26, 2018

Mars, On a Smorgasbord

The moon was shining brightly, but it was a nice clear sky last night.

I started bringing the equipment outside around 8pm and I was stunned by what I saw in the sky.
SkySafari Screen Capture - Four Planets Hanging in the Sky
Four planets were hanging brightly in the Southern sky.  From left to right, Glorious Red Mars, Brilliant Yellow Saturn, Regal White Jupiter, and Beacon Bright Venus.

I pointed the telescope at each of them and spent some observation time on each.

But, it was Mars from which I captured images.

This image was teased out of a six minute video, tens of thousands of frames, via AutoStakkert!3 and RegiStax 6.

Mars, August 25th, 2018 at 0212 UTC
Mars continues to clear from the planet encircling dust storm, but it will be interesting to see if it gets clear enough to be a treat before it gets too far from us to observe its features.

The Virtual Planet Atlas model predicts this for Mars on last night's observation date and time.

Mars, The Virtual Planet Atlas

Next week?  More more Mars, clouds willing.  I expect to be keeping an eye on Mars as it recedes from us until it is just a featureless tiny red dot.


  1. It seemed like Mars sand storms were settling down, do you agree? As we move toward a New Moon phase, what times are best for viewing Mars? And is dark roast recommended for morning viewing? 😎

    1. Dark roast is best for Astronomy anytime!

      Nasa says that the storm on Mars is in "decay," meaning that more dust is leaving the atmosphere than coming into it.

      They are clearly worried that they haven't heard from Opportunity. The storm may have killed that poor little rover. Curse that Marvin the Martian!

      The best time to view Mars is probably when it crosses the Meridian, which is when it is highest in the sky and, in theory, out of most of the atmospheric murk.

      The brightness of the moon doesn't matter much for viewing Mars, as Mars is pretty bright itself. Viewing under a new moon is preferred because you can take a peek at DSO's while waiting for Mars to get higher in the sky.

  2. I’m very behind on keeping up with the planets! First, Pluto leaves the game, and now Mars is running away!

    1. Planets are fun because there are 5 of them that are bright enough to be seen with the naked eye.

      Mars is really fun because every couple of years it gets closer to us so we can see its volcanoes and valleys.

      Marvin the Martian made a dust storm this time so it was difficult to see anything!

      I like Jupiter the most because its moons will cast shadows on its face that we can see from here.

  3. I didn't know about Opportunity, yeah, the poor thing. Thanks as always for the Mars image.

    1. If we could get Marvin to sweep the dust off of Opportunity, it might get better as its solar batteries recharge.


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