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Mars at 7820mm (2018Jun04)

Mars on 2018Jun04 Mars on 2018Jun04 © Frederick Steiling

Featured in Tele Vue's post about the 2018 Mars opposition: See a snapshot or view Tele Vue's post.

Selected as an Astrobin "Top Pick".

Image Links
Full resolution
Target Information
Main Target Designation(s) Mars
All Exposures
Date(s) of acquisition 2018Jun04 at 08:17UT
Location Defiance, MO
Target Altitude 25.9°
Apparent Diameter 15.85"
Phase 91.6%
IR Exposures (as Luminance)
Total capture 9230 x 25.63ms at 50% gain
Stack source 7% of 240" video at 38 fps (avg)
Red Exposures
Total capture 13159 x 11.32ms at 50% gain
Stack source 7% of 150" video at 87 fps avg
Green Exposures
Total capture 6125 x 24.45ms at 50% gain
Stack source 10% of 150" video at 13 fps (avg)
Blue Exposures
Total capture 4756 x 31.50ms at 50% gain
Stack source 13% of 150" video at 12 fps (avg)
Equipment
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
Software
Acquisition FireCapture 2.5
Guiding None
Processing AutoStakkert 3, Registax 6, WinJUPOS 10, PixInsight 1.8

As we scoot toward its opposition at the end of July, Mars is getting a little higher in the sky, a little closer to us, and a little bigger in the scope.  With the help of the long focal length afforded by the C14 and the 2x Powermate, we're starting to be able to discern more and more detail as the summer nights march forward.  Here we are graced with the presence of the Syrtis Major, one of the most prominent "dark areas" on Mars, along with the Hellas impact crater south of it, which holds the record for the largest visible impact crater known in our solar system.  This type of albedo detail stirs a lot of excitement as we consider what added depth of features may become visible as Mars moves to a better position.  But, this excitement is now tempered with some unexpected caution...

Very recently, a dust storm began on Mars and has quickly escalated its growth to a global-scale.  While this is a fascinating development, it's timing is unfortunate to say the least!  A video released by NASA details the difference the storm has made -- and "significant" would be an understatement!  I'm lucky to have captured this image (arguably my best attempt yet) ahead of the global outbreak.  With the best Martian apparition we've had in many years reaching its peak over the coming months, we can only sit here and hope the universe decides to dial back the Martian madness... but even if it doesn't, I'll get a look at one of the most unique weather phenomenon in our solar system!

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