Wednesday 14 October 2020

With the skies clearing after work, it was time to head to the observatory to catch Mars – now a few days past opposition.

After rolling the observatory roof back at 2200, I started an autocapture in FireCapture taking a 4 minute video file every 5 minutes, checking the focus every now and again. I started somewhat early as Mars would not culminate for several hours. The seeing was fair but slowly improved as Mars rose higher.   

The best seeing was at midnight – it may have improved further but I was falling asleep so called it a night. Once again it was a matter of moments to pack away despite being tired. It really is such a pleasure to have an observatory.

This is the best set of images from around 2300Z. 

  • No clouds over the Tharsis volcanoes
  • Olympus Mons easily visible
  • Caralis Fretum – visible as a dark spot
  • No signs of dust
  • North polar cap has receded.

I also increased the exposure and caught Phobos and Deimos in the Martian glare (adjusting the levels to bring them out in photoshop). The moons are mag 11 and 12 respectively so Mars, at mag -2.6, is slightly overexposed (being some 1 million times brighter!).

The cold nights of winter are coming. I could be outside for hours with just a sweater for warmth in July and August, now I need multiple layers and thick socks to stave off the cold.