Fremont Peak Mars Night, Aug. 16-17, 2003

by Rich Neuschaefer

A few us up at Fremont Peak's Ranger Row area and one's at the FPOA Observatory offered a visiting crowd very nice celestial views of the brighter summer sky objects and stunning views of Mars. The weather conditions leading into the night time started off very good for general observing before the moon rose and continued to improve later on for Mars.

I was accompanied by Rich Neuschaffer with his 180 EDT and Rashad Al-Mansour with his 4" TeleVue Genesis.

It was a great night at the Peak. It was good seeing Peter, Rashad, Akkana, Dave and others. Rod Norden was also visiting from Texas. The air was warm (@ 70 deg F) and dry all evening. The seeing was very good. I had thought it was a little softer that it really was because I was thinking the long dark feature on Mars was the same feature I had seen earlier in the week. Akkana was right, it was a different feature. When the feature I had seen earlier in the week come into view about 1:30am the detail was amazing.

We also looked at the Moon. The detail was excellent. I wish I had brought my Rukl "Atlas of the Moon". I believe it was Gassendi what was still in good position. The floor of Gassendi was full of detail.

Thanks to Peter for having an excellent chart showing Phobos in relation to Mars. Once I knew where to look it was easy to see in his 10" AP MC. Phobos was a pin prick of light about 3/4 the diameter of Mars of the limb of Mars.

I went over to my AP180EDT (180mm f/9) and removed my binoviewer and replaced with a Maxbright diagonal and 6mm Zeiss Abbe Ortho eyepiece. With Mars nearly in the center of the field, Phobos was a tiny speck of light that would consistently blink on while I looked directly at it. Rod and some other folks there also could see Phobos in 180EDT.

After several minutes (maybe 20 minutes?) I looked again at Phobos and it had moved to about 1/2 a Mars diameter of limb.