Mars Opposition, 2016
December 27, 2016. Both Mars and Venus were well placed for early evening observing although Mars is quite small, only 5.8 arc seconds in diameter and quite gibbous. Venus is 20.9 seconds across and is in the first quarter phase. I set up with the C11 with the ASI224MC camera and used a Barlow lens to get a focal ratio of f/50. Seeing was quite poor, however, some features were visible on Mars. See attached composite image. Both planets are at the same scale. The central meridian of Mars is 223.7 degrees longitude. That puts Mare Cimmerium right at the center of the disk with Elyssium to the northeast.
June 29, 2016. Clear skies and great transparency tonight, but only average seeing. Set up for imaging mars with the ASI224MC equipped with 2x shorty Barlow on the nosepiece of my atmospheric dispersion comp-ensator and took a set of 20 two minute videos using the CPC-1100EdgeHD. Processed in AS!2 keeping only the best 5% of the frames, Registax6, WinJUPOS and GIMP. GIMP produced the animate GIF shown at the left, and the image above resulted from derotating and stacking all the images. Results are poor because of the low altitude and unexceptional seeing, but some features are visible, notably around the volcano in Elysium. The dark streak between Aeolis and Zephyria is close to Antaeus, a canal marked on the old Lowellian maps and not far from Gale crater, the landing site of Curiosity..
June 26, 2016. Comparing the performance of the C14 with the CPC-1100EdgeHD. Both sets of animated gifs from images taken tonight were obtained with the ASI224MC behind the ADC with a 2x shorty Barlow lens on the nosepiece of the ADC. Gives f/21.5 on the 11" and f/23.7 on the 14", but the image scale is larger on the images taken with the C14 (top) because of the longer focal length. Seeing was poor at the low altitude.
Below is a comparison of the derotated and stacked images from both telescopes, but with the C11 final result scaled to the same size as the C14.
June 17, 2016. Seeing was forecast to be average before midnight and above average afterwards. I started imaging Mars with the ASI224MC, 2x Barlow, ADC and the CPC-1100EdgeHD at 9:20 PM EDT and took a set of 33 videos of two minutes duration. Large albedo features were visible on the computer screen as I recorded the videos, Syrtis Major, Hellas, Sinus Meridiani, Mare Acidalium and the bright desert appearing plateau of Arabia. A hint of the old Lowellian canals at the border between Arabia and the northern abyssal plane could occasionally be seen (Deuteronilus), as well as a bright south polar hood. Seeing was indeed average up to the very end as Mars was about to go behind a tall oak tree southwest of the observatory. That last video gave the image at the top of this section. It was taken at 10:35 PM EDT. An animated gif prepared from all of the images is also shown. This is the same side of Mars that was imaged in good seeing on the evening of May 12. A side by side comparison if these evenings is shown below.
June 12, 2016. Quite breezy tonight and poor seeing. Transparency good. Mars was a rapidly changing blob, difficult to focus. I took two 120 second videos with the ASI224MC, 2x Barlow and home made ADC. Processed as usual with Autostakkert and Registax to give the result to the right. Not very sharp, but Sinus Meridiani, Mare Erythraeum and Mare Acidalium are visible as is a bit of south polar hood.
June 3, 2016. Although it was cloudy most of the day, both the Clear Sky Chart and weather forecasts suggested that a partial clearing would take place before midnight tonight. About 10pm EDT I opened up the observatory to hazy but relatively stable conditions and began recording 2 minute videos of Mars. I was using the ASI224MC one-shot color camera, 2x Barlow and my home made atmospheric dispersion compensator to deal with the fact that Mars was around 20 degrees altitude and had blue and red color fringes due to the atmospheric dispersion. Telescope was my CPC-1100EdgeHD and I took the video with Firecapture beta 2.5. A total of 37 videos were obtained between 10:10 and 11:42 pm EDT, each containing about 27,000 frames. Seeing was well above average for the period between 10:12 and 10:37, but deteriorated rapidly after that as thickening overcast developed. The videos were processed first in Autostakkert, keeping only the best 5% of the frames, and the crude stacks sharpened with wavelets in Registax6. The 12 best of the images were derotated and stacked in WinJUPOS and lightly sharpened in Registax to give the image shown above. This is by far the best image I have obtained this opposition. All of the images obtained from the videos were combined to give the animated GIF shown below.
May 28, 2016. Skies were clear, but seeing only average tonight. I took 12 videos of 120 seconds duration and processed them in Autostakkert, Registax6 and WinJUPOS to get this image. Although seeing was not the best, many identifiable features were seen. Taken with the ASI224MC, 2x Barlow, ADC and CPC-2200EdgeHD.
GIF Animation of all 21 images from evening of May 12, 2016
May 12, 2016. A period of good seeing allowed the best images so far of this opposition. The above is one of 21 images obtained.
November 4, 2015.