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Face of Mars

24/5/14

Peter Hill

 

Last weekend made most of the good weather, Sat 17th  at a friends near Ashbourne , we watched mercury appear just after 10pm, it played hide and seek in the clouds , but showed a gibbous face, taken with canon 450D and sigma 150 - 500 mm zoom on tripod with remote shutter release and mirror lock. 10" F5.6 ISO 100 at 150mm for landscape and 2" F6.3 ISO 100 at 500mm for insert.

 

Sun 18th set up 200mm Newtonian on HEQ5 pro, no alignment for goto, just aligned visually with Telrad.

 

10pm  Jupiter getting lower in NW over garage roof Io and europa close together with Gannymede on one side  Callisto far away on other, Hyperion-Zoom and Barlow at 6mm equivalent and light blue filter showed up the main cloud belts .

 

Image taken with neximage5, probably the last view of jupiter from my location as it had dipped below garage roof by 10:30pm

 

10:35 pm Mars now high up just past S, at 5mm equivalent with neutral density filter, mars showed north polar ice cap and dark markings in centre and south, initially thought Syrtis major , but it is the opposite way round and was in fact the Mare Acidilium, as shown on the images.

 

11:20 pm Saturn had now moved into position between the two roof tops(mine and neighbours) Rings showed up clearly and only one moon visible  following the line of the rings, checking Starry night this was Enceladus , other moons were close to Saturn but because of their low albedos did not show up, Enceladus has a very high albedo of ~0.9 since its' surface is covered in ice.

Low position in saky makes imaging saturn problematic, turbulence disrupts image of rings and causes misalignment of the red and blue in the images, this has been slightly corrected for in registax by tweaking the RGB alignment.

 

12:00 Comet Pannstarrs K12 is passing under the pan of the Big Dipper (plough) and was very close to Chi U.M so aimed of this star with Telrad , checking though eyepiece there appeared to be a smudge, which was shown to be the comet with a 2 minute exposure at ISO 1600 F6.3  with canon 450D Tamron 18 -270 mm lens at 270mm, picky backed on the Newtonian.

While in the vicinity of U.M I moved to the end of the handle and aimed off Alkaid to locate M51, same exposure as with Pann starrs, you can make out the two bright centres and whirlpool of the dust clouds.  More exposures and stacking in deep sky-stacker is a definite possibility but will need to upgrade my image processing software first!

 

12:45 Packed away.

 

The image above shows the faces of Mars imaged over the last month using Neximage5 on the 200mm Newtonian(F5) with a x2 barlow 1000 frames with stacking and wavelets in Registax 6.

 

For reference I have attached a copy of a map produced from Nasa/JPL images.   With a rotation period of 24.6 hours Mars only slowly reveals its different features , the sequence shown represents 30 days, Syrtis major would be visible again after approx 35 days(23rd may).

 

Pete H

 

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