Sunday, October 30, 2005

Mars again (Toronto)

A rather balmy evening. But some light high clouds are drifting in...
  • seeing: 3 to 5 / 10 (images less stable than last night)
  • transparency: ClearDarkSky said average again
  • time: 10:30pm - 11:00pm EST (off Daylight Savings)
  • humidity: 69%
  • temp: 9°C
The planet seemed a little washed out. Only occasionally would it clear.

The face of Mars tonight, at 10:43pm, looks very similar to yesterday's first sketch.

observing Mars (Toronto)

It's been 2 years since the closer approach of Mars. I still think fondly of that evening, in the summer of 2003, when Alan and I took my 8-inch 'scope up to York U, and were swamped with a couple hundred people! Funny. Quite the opposite tonight. Quiet, solo session, not a human in sight.
  • seeing: 5 to 7 / 10 (improved as Mars approached zenith)
  • transparency: unknown (couldn't even find Ursa Minor!); ClearDarkSky said average
  • time: 11:00pm - 1:30am EDT (still on Daylight Savings)
  • humidity: high

Set up my telescope in "back yard" at around 10:00pm. Connected the heaters to combat dew. Had to turn them fairly high...

My back yard is the size of a kitchen but it is relatively dark, particularly when the neighbours turn out their porch and bedroom lights. The altitude angle of Mars was perfect such that I could set the 'scope up just outside the garage.

Earlier in the year there had been a plan with Malcolm to take the 'scope up to Val and Bruce's near Holland Landing during their Hallowe'en party. But things conspired against doing that. And I didn't feel going alone. The skies would have been pretty dark up there...

Still, the back yard is convenient.

Mars was spectacular, hovering 10 degrees right of the Pleiades!

Mars at 10:55pm.

Tried eyepieces from Mom's 'scope. The 18mm Meade was very nice, clear, good eye relief. Mars at 110x was very good. I also tried the 4mm Meade but it produced a magnification of 500x which is beyond the telescope's usable range (not to mention well past the normal ground-based limitations). Challenging eye relief as well. Not surprisingly I had to take off my glasses. Combined with my 26mm Celestron Plössl, we now have a good range of eyepieces.

Enjoyed the rotation of Mars. I wasn't expecting that.

Mars at 12:30am.

It appeared to be rotating from right to left in my 'scope. Is that right? I cannot seem to remember if my 'scope presents upside-down or reversed left-to-right...

I wanted to know which part or side of Mars I was looking at. But I'll have to do some research to determine that.

Through the glare, I tried to catch the moons of Mars. But I don't think I saw them. I read about a trick part way through the session, of masking the centre of the eyepiece. Perhaps I'll try that on another evening.

I examined my Tirion's SkyAtlas and RedShift software closely to see if I could account for the other markers in the field. But the SkyAtlas only goes down to magnitude 8 and my software to 10.

I was seeing some objects, probably stars, fainter than that.

Pangs of photography. Briefly considered hooking up the camera. But I'd have have to manual track the 'scope for a long exposure. Thought once again I should get a single-axis motor to permit this...