Sunday, October 14, 2018

Racing Clouds!

Last night's observing session started out nicely.

Mars was going to cross the meridian early in the night, so I started dragging the equipment out shortly after sunset.  I wanted to give the OTA plenty of time to thermally equalize before trying to image Mars.

The sky was gloriously clear.

Astrospheric, my go to site for astronomy weather predictions, claimed that it was going to cloud over in a couple of hours.

"Nah, that can't be right," I thought.  The sky was gorgeous.  The Milky Way was brightly overhead.

As I connected the imager to the laptop, I looked over to the western horizon and saw a wisp of a cloud bank very low in the sky.

I pointed the telescope at Mars, attached the imager, and started FireCapture.  After getting Mars into focus, I took another peek at the western horizon.  "Hmmm.  That is a fast moving bank of clouds." 
FireCapture and Mars
I started the video capture.  I let it run for six minutes.  I was happy to have this capture completed; I would have something to show for this session, at least.

I spent some more time perfecting the focus and then started another six minute video capture.

About four minutes into the capture, Mars started playing peek-a-boo through the clouds.

I did manage to get enough Mars data, though.

Shrinking Mars
I added the Mars image to my "Shrinking Mars" composite, which shows Mars rapidly receding from us.

At this rate, we are not far from Mars just appearing as a red dot in the sky.



  1. When Mars becomes a red dot in the sky, I guess we'll have to look for deep space objects again.

    1. Red dots can be fun, too! I have a list of carbon stars to observe. They are all various shades of red.

  2. Bummer. Gonna miss these details. My least favorite news, in my most favorite blog. ‘The shrinking Mars’. FACT; It’s an ever changing universe. Mars just seems so far away now compared to July. ( oh wait, it is) hmmm well, We will be going to Mars within 12 years and I am hopeful I can stowaway. :)

    1. Do you think that are wives will notice if we sneak off to Mars? ;-)

      The good news is that while with Mars getting harder to see any details, Jupiter will continue to be large enough for imaging. The moon shadows across its face always are a delight. We just need to wait for it to rejoin our night sky.


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