|June 16, 2001, 07:15 UT|
Instrument: 10-inch Starfinder
Tonight, I was treated to extended moments--five to ten seconds--of good seeing during otherwise turbulent conditions. I was able to view at 388X throughout the observation. I also used neutral density, 80A (light blue) and 23A (light red) filters. High pressure is re-building over the Colorado plateau and the seeing should improve somewhat over the next few nights. If that is the case and tonight is any indication, we're in for some good Mars observing over the weekend.
Mars presents an overall flesh tone hue, or peach as I like to call it. This is broken by several dark albedo features. The most prominent, Syrtis Major, is fast approaching the central meridian (CM). A darker central region extends the full length of Syrtis Major, and reaches across its breadth from the preceding (east) side to just inside the following (west) side. Iapygia Viridis borders Syrtis Major to the south. Syrtis Minor and Mare Tyrrhenum blend seamlessly into one darker feature west of Syrtis Major. A light colored gulf separates Mare Tyrrhenum from Tritonis Sinus, Hesperia and Mare Cimmerium. These three features combine to form a mottled, irregular shaped feature which extends over the preceding limb.
Hellas is fairly well defined south of Iapygia Viridis. In my June 6 observation, I noted that Hellas did not present the bright white hue which had been characteristic the past three oppositions. However, I didn't spend much time observing Mars without filtration that night. I find the glaring view difficult to decipher. Hellas appears a dull flesh tone when viewed at 388X through the neutral density filter. However, this impact crater displays a dull white hue when viewed without filtration. I also note the white glow of clouds and/or ice over the north polar cap. The southern limb in the vicinity of Mare Australe also presents as dull white.
Several northern hemisphere features are seen despite being much less prominent when compared to oppositions of '95, '97 and '99. Utopia is the dominant feature north of Syrtis Major. Casius is seen extending southward from Utopia along the CM. Boreosyrtis is just detectable west of Casius. The familiar chevron pattern of Hyblaeus Extension is visible near the preceding limb. I did not capture Nodus Alcyonius in the sketch at left. This dark feature normally appears immediately south of Utopia, just east of Casius.
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Revised: February 2, 2002 [WDF]