Mars observations from 2018
October 7, 2018. It was not a very promising day for astronomy: overcast, occasional rain, Clear Sky Chart prediction for essentially zero transparency, however, the jet stream prediction looked very good with the high velocity region well north of NJ. When I went out to check the sky at 6:30 pm, I noted that although quite hazy, the sky was relatively cloud free. So, I opened up the observatory and pointed the 7.25" f/14 Schupmann Medial to Mars which was still behind a tree. I began imaging at 7:22 pm in the late twilight using the ASI290MM camera fitted with the 850 nm cutoff long pass IR filter and the 1.5x Barlow giving about f/21. With this filter, scattered blue light from the sky is essentially invisible and one can observe in the daytime with no difficulty. I recorded data for one minute using an exposure of 23 ms and a gain of 323. I took an additional 25 one minute videos until 8:11 PM. At this point, I switched over to my ASI224MC one shot color camera and continued imaging at f/21 taking 90 second duration raw undeBayered 8-bit videos. I took color data until 8:42 pm by which time I had taken 12 color videos. At this point I switched back to the ASI290MM and IR filter and took another 9 one minute videos in monochrome IR.
I processed all 47 videos in Autostakkert3! keeping 10% of the best of 2800 frames in each of the IR videos and 5% of the 34,000 frames in each of the color videos. Registax6 wavelets were used to sharpen the tif files created by AS3!. The 12 color images and the last 9 infrared images were derotated and stacked using WinJupos to give the images shown below.
In these views of Mars, centered around a central meridian of 130°W, we see a prominent Solis Lacus, left, just above center, as well as Olympus Mons and the volcanoes of the Tharsis Ridge. The volcanoes show up as dark smudges in the visible light image where we only see the summits poking up through the dust that still obscures the lowland regions of Tempe, Tharsis and Acadia. The infrared image lets us see all the way to the surface where the volcanoes show up in relief with bright south eastern slopes and dark north western slopes. The recent dust storm outbreak in Thyle I can just be seen on the terminator to the right of the South Polar Cap. See labeled version of the IR map above.
October 3, 2018. The images below were obtained with the Schupmann medial, 1.5x Barlow and the ASI290MM camerafitted with the 850 nm cutoff IR filter and with the ASI224MC one shot color camera. In both cases the efr was f/21. Olympus Mons is prominent in the visible light image as a dark smudge in the lower left of the image where the summit of the volcano sticks up through the dusty lower atmosphere. It can also be seen in the IR image in relief with the south eastern slopes lit up by IR from the sun penetrating the dust. The north western slope is in partial shadow.
A new outbreak of this season's dust storm may be seen in the Thyle I region. It is the yellowish streak extending to the western limb from just below the South Polar Cap. It was not present in my images from September 30.
September 30, 2018. Mars was bright in a nearly clear sky this evening. First look through the Schupmann showed a bit better seeing than last night, about average for New Jersey. I attached the ASI290MM camera, with the 850 nm cutoff IR filter to the f/14 focus of the telescope and proceeded to capture twelve one minute videos of Mars between about 9:45 and 10 PM EDT. I processed them in Autostakkert2 using 1.5x drizzling to ensure good sampling, keeping the best 15% of about 11,000 frames per video. I then derotated and stacked the 12 images in WinJUPOS to give the image shown at the left. Elysium Planitia is seen near the bottom (North) of the disk near the terminator. The dark strip across the disk above center is the region from Mare Sirenum to Mare Cimmerium. The nearly featureless light region on the lower left of the disk is the Amazonis region of the nothern abyssal plain where the younger Mars probably had an ocean.
September 29, 2018.
It was mostly clear tonight with fair seeing when I took 22 one minute videos of mars with the ASI290MM with an infrared filter attached using the 7.25” Schupmann Medial at f/14. The best
15% of the 8500 frames were aligned and stacked in Autostakkert2 and sharpened with wavelets in Registax6. All 22 images were then derotated to a common CM in WinJUPOS and stacked.
This final image is shown above compared with an albedo map textured globe prepared for the same CM and CLat in WinJUPOS as well as the appropriate section of the BAA map of Mars.
Note the region from 160 degrees to 200 west longitude and about 30 degrees south latitude that has a dark albedo indicating removal of light dust from underlying dark rock. Elysium
Planetia and Elysium Mons is in the lower right near the terminator. An animated GIF was also prepared from the 22 images. It is shown here.
September 28, 2018. Seeing was only fair tonight when I obtained this image of mars,
not as good as it was on August 24 when I previously imaged this face of Mars. At the left is one of 4 images I obtained tonight at the f/14 focus of the 7.25”
Schupmann Medial using the ASI290MM camera fitted with an 850 nm cutoff IR filter. Processed with Autostakkert2 using 3x drizzling and sharpened with Regisatx6. We see Mare Cimmerium
and Elysium in this view. The South polar cap has almost sublimed away. Tomorrow night is predicted to be better seeing.
August 23, 2018. Seeing was definitely above average tonight. Predictions were not as favorable as what I got. I was able to collect a series of videos, all with the 850 nm cutoff IR filter and ASI290MM with 1.5x Barlow on the 7.25" Schupmann Medial showing the transit of Io and Europa on Jupiter, several videos of Saturn and a set of 14 one minute videos of Mars. They covered CM = 208.8° W.Longitude at 02:00.1 UT up to 214.1° at 02:21.8 UT. I assembled them into an animated GIF using GIMP. The animation is shown below. An enlarged version of the image from the video taken at 02:10 UT is shown above along side of a portion of the BAA map made from observations of the 2001 opposition. The dark projection hanging down from the middle of Mare Cimmerium has a round blob on the north end. This is Gale crater where Curiosity is exploring. For the images of Jupiter and Saturn, see their current pages.
August 5, 2018. The above image of Mars was obtained with the ASI290MM camera fitted with an 850 nm cutoff long pass infrared filter and a 1.5x Barlow lens at the f/10 focus of the 13" Schupmann Medial telescope at MacGregor Observatory, Stellafane East. Numerous identifiable surface features are visible, including Sinus Meridiane,Mare Acidalium, Mare Erythraeum and Vallis Mariners. The white feature just below the South Polar cap is the large impact feature Argyre. It's depth is exceeded only by Hellas. Still full of dust. RGB imaging in visible light only shows vague indications where Mare Erythraeum is and the Pole Cap. See image below with latitude longitide grid.
July 19, 2018. The image shown at the left is a de-rotated stack of 9 images obtained from 120 second videos taken with an ASI390MM camera equipped with a #25 deep red long pass filter and the optics from a 2x shorty Barlow screwed onto the nosepiece. Effective focal ratio on the C11 is f/17.1. The central meridian is 217.6° west longitude.
The eastern part of Mare Cimmerium appears dark in my image, but not in the Starry Night simulation. The reason for this is that the Starry Night simulation is based on the appearance of Mars after another global dust storm which left a layer of reflective dust covering this region. More recent images show it dark (the dust got blown away) as it appears in my image and the BAA map. It is interesting that Elysium Mons (the volcano in the Elysium region) does not show up in my image. I take this to mean that the volcano summit is not high enough to poke through the dust layer or that the dust is unusually thick here. From July 25 til past opposition, Olympus Mons and the volcanos of the Tharsis Ridge will be facing Earth. I expect to see them sticking up through the dust even if the storm has not subsided since their entire summits and calderas are above 20 km altitude.
A portion of the BAA map created by Shiro Ebisawa from observations made in the 1950's. It is my
standard for nomenclature of albedo features.
June 30, 2018. This is an animated GIF made from a set of 14 images of Mars taken with the ASI224MC, ZWO atmospheric dispersion corrector 2x Barlow on the C14. Focal ratio was about f/27. Seeing was below average. Note the dust is obscuring nearly all surface features except the south polar cap.