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Mars at 7820mm (2018May28)

Mars on 2018May28 Mars on 2018May28 © Frederick Steiling
Image Links
Full resolution
Via YouTube
Target Information
Main Target Designation(s) Mars
All Exposures
Date(s) of acquisition 2018May28 at 08:50UT
Location Defiance, MO
Capture resolution 400x400
Target Altitude 27.2°
Red Exposures (also as Luminance)
Total capture 12659 x 9.40ms at 53% gain
Stack source 10% of 120" video at 105 fps (avg)
Green Exposures
Total capture 5331 x 21.63ms at 53% gain
Stack source 10% of 120" video at 46 fps (avg)
Blue Exposures
Total capture 4863 x 24.63ms at 53% gain
Stack source 10% of 120" video at 40 fps (avg)
Imager ZWO ASI174MM
Filters ZWO 1.25" RGB
Telescope/Lens Celestron C14 XLT SCT
Magnifiers Tele Vue 2x Powermate
Effective Focal Length 7820mm (f/22)
Mount Celestron CGE Pro
Focuser Moonlite 2.5" CSL
Acquisition FireCapture 2.5
Guiding None
Processing AutoStakkert 3, Registax 6, WinJUPOS 10, PixInsight 1.8

After too much time buried in the daytime sky, the Mars 2018 apparition has finally begun!  Currently rising from the east in the early morning, I captured this set of data around 3:50am when the famous red planet was still just 27 degrees above the horizon.  The thick atmosphere at this low altitude didn't prevent the well-dialed C14 from getting some super data, however!

In what certainly amounts to the best Martian image I've ever done, we see some great surface detail.  Primarily, the frozen CO2 southern polar cap steals our attention, and for good reason -- it isn't a small feature!  The southern cap is estimated to boast 1.6 million cubic km of ice at a diameter of 350 km and thickness of 3 km.  Over the course of the current Marian apparition, I'll be monitoring this polar cap to see if I can estimate it's growth/shrinking as Mars cycles through its seasons.

Color balance on these planetary images is never easy, but I think I've come close here with a solid set of data and some minor curve tweaks.  I'm quite pleased with this early-season data and am really excited to capture more as Mars moves to opposition, at which point it will be 40% larger in our sky!

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