|August 13, 2003, 09:15 UT|
Instrument: 10-inch Starfinder
Tonight, Mars navigates the sky with a companion. Just one day past full, the Moon rides the celestial currents just 4 degrees west of the red planet. The sketch at left renders the view in my 10-inch, f/4.5 Meade Starfinder at 388X. I achieve this magnification by pairing a Meade 8.8-mm UWA eyepiece with the TeleVue 3X Barlow. Filters are employed to give a lift to details in the martian atmosphere and on its surface.
The 23A (light red) filter maximizes contrast on the albedo features. Syrtis Major, Hellas, Mare Tyrrhenum and Iapygia Viridis are seen along the following rim. They'll transit the central meridian (CM) in just a few hours. But for the moment, due to foreshortening, they're distorted versions of themselves.
Mare Cimmerium, Hesperia and Tritonis Sinus are prominent along the CM, right now. Mare Cimmerium and Hesperia remind me of a pair of hands reaching out to each other, ready to clasp in a handshake. The South Polar Cap (SPC) is bright white but much smaller than a week ago. This close to perihelion, it is sublimating at an impressive rate. Mare Australe borders the SPC along the CM. Mare Chronium is visible against the polar cap near the preceding limb.
The 80A (light blue) filter brings out atmospheric features, including limb clouds. The large dark feature, Utopia, is hidden beneath clouds along the northern limb opposite the SPC. The northern limb clouds appear slightly offset toward the following side of Mars. Some southern hemisphere albedo features are seen. Aetheria, Chaos and Hyblaeus Extension are just resolved against the skin-toned martian surface.
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Revised: August 25, 2003 [WDF]