Sunday, August 12, 2018

Mars, Two Weeks Post Opposition

Another lousy weekend for astronomy.

Clouds in the sky at night.  Each and every night.

I missed the peak of the Perseids meteor shower because of overcast skies.

Fortunately, I saw the forecast in advance and took yet another vacation day from work to stay out all night on Thursday to try to get some quality observing done.

It was a dark and moonless sky on Thursday.  It also started out as horribly cloudy.  Mars was beckoning near the horizon.  Clearly, teasing me to try some lucky imaging.  The rest of the sky was full of clouds, but Mars was visible.

Mars rise is before 8pm (EST) these days.  If you haven't seen it yet, you really ought to make an effort.  It'll be the bright orange/red object in the southeastern sky.  It's gorgeous! 

Clouds obscured the North Star.  This made aligning the telescope somewhat troublesome.  Tracking will suffer if the telescope is not aligned.

I made a guess as to where true north was with respect to the telescope.  I must have made a good guess.  Tracking was good enough that Mars stayed in the field of view for the many minutes that I like for a video capture run.

This is the best of the resulting images.  Mars appears to be clearing of the dust storm as it is now getting further away from us and the sun.
Mars, August 10th, 2018 at 0446 UTC
The Virtual Planet Atlas model shows this for the observation date and time.
Mars, via the Virtual Planet Atlas for August 10th, 2018 at 0446 UTC
Shortly after capturing my last video of Mars for this astronomy session, I was ready to start dragging the equipment indoors.  I was done.

And then a miracle occurred.  The sky cleared.

It was a dark and moonless night.  And the sky was clear.  Whatever was I going to do now?

More coffee was involved.  And then I started down my observing list that I had previously created in SkySafari.

When I observed this object, I was really glad that I persevered despite the earlier clouds.
Next week?  Clouds willing, more Mars, of course.  And whatever other astronomy images that I manage to capture.😎

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