Friday, 24 February 2012

Saturday night under the Martian Light.

Saturday's initial sketch of Mars
Saturday Evening:

Last Saturday evening I was all set up in the observatory to take some photos of Mars.

The Nikon D50 camera was ready, the x3 Barlow was in place, the Tal clock drive was ticking away, the skies were crystal clear.

Also my quarry had not long risen over the edge of the easterly wall of my observatory....

I good nights viewing was ahead..... PERFECT.....!!!

Perfect that was until I actually tried to image this little red beauty........!!

It quickly became apparent that my planetary photo imaging left a lot to be desired.....

I wasn't having much luck capturing my images.....then it struck me....!!!

Why am I trying to capture mediocre Mars photos on such a beautiful night.

These nights of steady seeing are so few from here in Pembrokeshire that it felt right to put the digital imaging equipment away and employ the old fashioned analogue photon detectors, namely my eyes.

Out came the pencils.... one black.... one red...and a piece of paper ...

After a few minutes of observing, Mars revealed its Snowy North Polar Cap.

Next came some darker detail near the polar cap...and a little later a strip of darker detail was seen to the South.

Mars is like one of those magic 3D holographic have to stare at iMars for awhile, and then slowly as if from nowhere the Martian detail will appear...

I would have had no hope of finding these features with the camera set up I was using.... I'm all in favour of astrophotography...but for me... huddled in my observatory, tonight's viewing was for the eyes of the dreamer alone.

It was great to be observing surface features again on this supposedly barren planet....

I reckon back in 1976 the Martians were standing behind both Viking landers, having a real good laugh.!!!!!  :0)

Whenever I see any surface detail on Barsoom, I'm off dreaming of Percival Lowell's nightly vigils on
Mars Hill in Flagstaff Arizona....

Percival Lowell was convinced of life on Mars, and spent 15 years extensively studying the Martian terrain, with the help of his amazing 24-inch (0.61 m) Alvan Clark Telescope.

Lowell was sure that the canals he observed were signs of intelligent life...  

It has now been shown that the canals he observed were mere optical illusions...
How disappointing!!!  :0(

Still....I reckon this fascinating ochre coloured planet has many secrets yet to be revealed...

Sunday Morning:

Tidying up my scribblings..

The following day I fired up Paintshop Pro and set to work on the previous night's drawing.

After processing  I managed to digitally draw the image below:

And after adding the written details... 

This was the final write up of my...
"Saturday night under the Martian Light"

Now is the best time to be observing Mars. The red planet will reach Opposition on the 3rd of March.

Here's a link to explain a bit more:

Clear Skies and hopefully Clear Martian Skies


  1. Great story Pembs! I am glad you put your camera away as your words and pencils really tell the story!

    "analogue photon collectors" "huddled in my observatory" " eyes of the dreamer alone" :)

    I got to visit Lowell's joint a few years back on a ice storm encrusted day in Flagstaff......his toy is awesome. I was dreaming of the view of Mars through it.

    About 15 years ago while doing a Mars observe w/ my 10"Coulter I caught a glimpse of the canals! Actually saw the optical effect of Martian landforms creating them. Honestly I could not believe my eyes that I saw what Lowell & Schiaparelli spied! For a few fleeting seconds I was transported back in time......

    1. Thanks SUG, :0)

      You've been to FLAGSTAFF!!! I am so jealous... :0))

      So great that you got to see Lowell's "Toy" :0) I guess if I had been near that refractor... they would've had to drag me away at closing time!!!! :0)

      " For a few fleeting seconds I was transported back in time" ...... Now I'm really jealous..... :0)

      Such dreams this refractor can invoke. :0)

      Great story SUG... thanks for sharing it.. I'm at this moment transported to Mars Hill..... :0))

      Catch you later

      Pembs :0)