Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Mars Mars and Mars again....plus Ladder Astronomy

"It was a most clear and frosty night, enough to make Mark haul out the telescope... and it was so worth it. 
He saw the dales and vales and snow caps of Mars..... " 
From the journal of Mrs Pembs  25th January 2010

I make no apology for droning on about Mars...now is the time to drag out those telescopes and feast your eyes on the wonderful world we call Mars...

Observing Mars has dominated all my astronomy spare time of late, and for good reason.

The planet Mars is currently at opposition, and as such it will allow us our best chance of viewing Mars for the next 40 or so days...after that time...as far as good viewing is concerned, Mars and our planet Earth say goodbye to each other for another 2 years .

My attempts at photography:  What can I say  !!!!!

As you can see from these photos, my Martian photography skills leave a lot to be desired... :0)

I tried to connect our Nikon D50 via a x3 Barlow to the eyepiece holder of the Tal.....

It didn't take me long to realise why so many people use webcams and Registax software...

No way was I going to capture a Martian photo...Time to rethink....!!

I quickly decided to have a go at sketching.....

This is infinitely more interesting....  I simply use the Tal combined with the x3 Barlow and the 15mm Tal Kellner.

So far over the last couple of weeks I have only been able to sketch a few drawings....  

I then scan these initial drawings into PaintShop Pro and go to work on them digitally until I arrive at a fair representation of what I've seen..

Then I try to make it all look presentable...  :0)

So far this is the sum of my Martian observing.....

Ladder Astronomy.

Here in Simpson Cross many of the good observations of Mercury have been lost to me because of all the neighbouring houses getting in the way......

Last night I had a brainwave...!!!!  Use the ladder and climb up above the roof tops.........

It worked  :0)  

From the top of our ladder I could plainly see Mercury......  along with brilliant Jupiter and Venus..

Because of the neighbour's roof tops getting in the way, I reckon I haven't seen Mercury for at least the last three years.

Thanks to a bit of "Ladder Astronomy"  that's no longer a problem..


  1. OMG Pembs another awesome post - seriously you communicate everything so well.....and "folksy"approach to life and hobby is a joy to read.

    Mrs.Pembs; "he saw the dales and vales"! :)

    Bag the camera.....keep sketching and writing!

    The Ladder......amazing insight and real life observations besides the ladder type totally fitting its surroundings and user.

    What a pleasure to know you and enjoy a bit of your experience!

    Sunday night after my Solar Outreach I did a few laps around the Marina. As I walked I was stopped by "more than one" who recognized me which lead to "Walkway Ecliptic Observations" of our current planet show. These were amazing encounters with whole groups of other passerby's joining us and tonnes of energy and glee - folks were amazed to see Mercury with a little of the Sug's historical background info!

    So I will now (inspired by you!) carry with me a ladder as I do my cardioid walks for I want them to have a better view! I think my 8ft Aluminum Extension Ladder will be best! Yes my ladder is now a part of the SUG outreach program!

    1. HI SUG.... :0)

      Thank You so much for your kind words....

      I must say that yes.. I do prefer the folksy approach to life. :0) I grew up on a farm in a quiet secluded part of Pembrokeshire. The night sky was my constant companion as a young boy. Back then a simple telescope and a planisphere were enough...and really the same is true for me today....

      I've recently been reading a lot about Leslie Peltier...what an inspiration. Such a quieter pace of life in his day.....reminds me of my childhood on my parents' farm..

      I like the fact that you get recognized on you Marina walks......SUG you put a lot of energy and enthusiasm into your outreach work..., so many people in Reno are lucky to have you passing on your cosmic knowledge...

      If more people had your passion and enthusiasm the world would be a happier place..

      "Walkway Ecliptic Observations"..Brilliant title :0)

      "Ladder Astronomy" If you add your ladder to the outreach program, and I keep promoting the same here in Wales, I think we may have started something here..!!! :0)

      No doubt someone will be selling "astronomy ladders" in Sky and Telescope soon... :0))

      Like wise SUG " a pleasure to know you and enjoy a bit of your experience" :0)


      p.s. Mrs Pembs says HELLO :0)

  2. Hello PA, I came across your blog by Googling 'Pembrokeshire Bloggers'(I wanted to find some local fellow bloggers). Anyway, although I didn't understand a lot of it, I know more about Mars than I did 15 minutes ago.
    Hope you have somebody holding your ladder though...

    1. Hello Charlie, Thanks for looking in on my blog, I've just been over to your blog....

      I really like the way you write it...

      Much of what you blog resonates with both my wife Helen and I... I'm sorry to hear of the terrible mess those frogs made to the woodland..those poor orangutans!!! :0)) and I like Dave's link between Whitney Houston and the Attic mice :0))

      Any blog post titled "Using bread as toilet roll, death chickens and the Oscars." gets my vote :0)

      Both Helen and I recognize both you and Dave from some of the car bootsales in Withybush market on Saturdays... We're usually there rifling through the boxes trying to find books....

      If we see you both at the bootsale we'll say a quick hello..:0)

      We've bookmarked your blog and will look in when we can...

      Great blogging Charlie..

      Mark and Helen-who was at the foot of the ladder. :)

      p.s. Helen's blog: http://helen-buzzword.blogspot.com/