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Mars at 3200mm (11Jul2016)

Mars through 8" at 3200mm (12Jul2016) Mars through 8" at 3200mm (12Jul2016) ©2016 Frederick Steiling
Target Information
Main Target Designation(s) Mars
Additional Images
Published image Full resolution
Exposures
Unfiltered monochrome 1298 x 1.4ms at 60% gain
Video source 5% of 4' video at 108 fps (avg)
Capture resolution 320x240
Date(s) of acquisition 11Jul2016
Location Defiance, MO
Equipment
Imager ZWO ASI120MM
Telescope/Lens Orion 8" f/3.9 Astrograph
(f/15.8 as configured)
Mount Celestron CGEM
Focuser Moonlite 2" Newtonian CR
Accessories
Coma Corrector None
Collimator 2" Howie Glatter @ 650nm
Focusing Moonlite Mini V2 High-res Controller
Magnifiers Televue 2" Powermate 4x
Software
Acquisition FireCapture 2.4
Guiding None
Processing AutoStakkert 2, Registax 6, PixInsight 1.8

Here we get a quick peek at one of our neighbors, the "Red Planet!"  (Or... the "Monochrome Planet?")

We're well past "prime time Mars" in July, and as a result, we're treated with an illumination phase.  While at opposition (our closest approach during the year), Earth sits roughly between Mars and the sun, giving it full illumination.  However as we progress further in the year as we have here, the off-axis sunlight casts partial radiance on the planetary disc, resulting on this night in a 90.7% phase.

Though we lack any color (filters) through the monochrome camera currently, the white-light shows us some interesting surface detail.  Although the rotation and phase of mars this night largely hides the famous northern icy polar cap (roughly at 11 o'clock here), the martian surface still displays contrasts between the dust-rich highland plains and darker, lava-sunken areas.

Photographing Mars isn't terribly different than Saturn in difficulty.  In fact, at their respective distances on this night, the disc of Saturn at 17 arcseconds is actually larger than the much closer Martian disc, which comes in at 15 arcseconds at the time of this image!  The one thing Mars has going for it, however, is that it is much brighter, and can therefore benefit from shorter subexposures and a higher overall framerate.

Soon enough, I'll add color filters to the planetary camera and bring Mars to rust-colored life.  For this season, though, we'll bid Mars ado in monochrome.

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