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(2014-04-27 21:18)

About this Object

Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second smallest planet in the Solar System after Mercury. Named after the Roman god of war, it is often described as the 'Red Planet' because the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance. Mars is a terrestrial planet with a thin atmosphere, having surface features reminiscent both of the impact craters of the Moon and the volcanoes, valleys, deserts, and polar ice caps of Earth. The rotational period and seasonal cycles of Mars are likewise similar to those of Earth, as is the tilt that produces the seasons. Mars is the site of Olympus Mons, the second highest known mountain within the Solar System, and of Valles Marineris, one of the largest canyons. The smooth Borealis basin in the northern hemisphere covers 40% of the planet and may be a giant impact feature. Mars has small and irregularly shaped moons, Phobos and Deimos, which may be captured asteroids.

About this Image

My purpose in capturing a Mars image on this evening was to capture my first image of Mars before it was too far past opposition, and to continue to investigate the performance of the C11 telescope. The size of the image that the telescope is capable of producing is pleasing, and suggests that a properly functioning optical past will produce a good amount of detail. I was able to rule out two of the possible issues that I identified while imaging Jupiter on Feb 21st. First, I verified that the collector plate remained dry. Then, I removed my judgement as a focusing factor by taking the first image slightly out of focus, and then taking subsequent images after very slight focus adjustments going through focus to slightly out of focus in the opposite direction. The best image from this batch is posted here, and is still very blurry. I want to try some processing adjustments, check collimation very carefully, and look for a clear, still night.

--- Date/Time ---
Local: 2014-04-27 21:18:18
UTC: 2014-04-28 01:18:18

--- Location ---
The Ashton Observatory at Johnson Farms, Ashton MD
(Latitude N39.15°, Longitude W77.01°, Elevation 510')

--- Conditions ---
Temperature: 48° Medium seeing

--- Optics ---
Celestron C11 280mm f/10.00 Reflector with Televue 2x PowerMate

--- Camera ---
Celestron NexImage 5

--- Post-Processing ---
RegiStax, PhotoShop

--- Selected Ephemeris ---
95.05 million miles from Earth and 239.89 million miles from the Sun
Apparent Diameter: 14.7 arcminutes. Magnitude: -1.2
Percent Illuminated: 98.1%. Elongation from Sun: 154.4°

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