Fine views of Mars last weekend

by Jason Hatton

Peter Santangeli wrote,

Friday night at Montebello was one of the busiest non-wednesdays I can remember, with at least 10 of us out. The weather was pleasant, and Mars was putting on its show.

At least 3 of us were using webcam's to image mars.

Nice images! Webcams are an easy and inexpensive way to capture fine planetary detail

This weekend was a good one for observing & imaging Mars, since at least from Mill Valley & San Francisco the seeing was very good (infact the first decent seeing conditions from here since early June!)

Friday night I observed from the backyard in Mill Valley, using my 9.25" SCT After midnight the seeing became quite steady & I managed to get some decent images of Mars. The view through the eyepiece was equally entrancing. At low power Mars was surrounded by a sparse star field with just the main features & S. polar cap in view. At higher powers Syrtis Major was dark and prominent near the proceeding limb with Mare Tyrrenhum & Mare Cimmerium also distinct. The Hellas basin was discernible, but other fine details were difficult to detect due to the small contrast differences. Nevertheless, to see Mars this large under steady seeing was quite something. I experimented with different magnifications & filters, finally calling it a night at 03:30 just around moonset. High above the Milky Way running through Cygnus was becoming distinct & in the south Mars shone brightly. After packing up the scope I took a few minutes to take in the serenity of the skyscape.

Saturday night I observed from a friends house, using his 10" SCT in San Francisco. Despite broken low clouds the seeing was very steady, allowing us to get quite a nice image of Mars using a webcam. Here is the result;

Hopefully the seeing conditions will co-operate over the next weeks to allow us all good views of this perihelic opposition of Mars. Lets also hope also that the atmosphere on Mars co-operates & doesn't brew up a global dust storm!