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

Monday, 6 February 2012

Pickering, the Moon, Mars and Leo.

I thought tonight would be a no go for astronomy as the clouds were back, and they covered much of the darkening sky. 

I managed a quick photo of the Moon before it disappeared into the bullying clouds..

By the look of those clouds it seemed better to head indoors and sit by a warming fire.

I happened to go outside about 11.00pm and was greeted with a beautiful smiling Moon looking down at me from a completely cloud free sky .Coat,hat and scarf on... and quickly out to the observatory and roll back the roof....!!!!  :0)

The Moon was about 98% illuminated so many of the stars were washed out by the radiance of the bright moonlight... But I was able to make out a a few of the main constellations.

The one that caught my eye was Leo the Lion which was positioned right next to the Moon.

Considering the proximity of Leo to the moon Gamma Leonis "Algeiba" was easily resolved with a x3 Barlow and both the 25mm plossl and the 15mm plossl... 

These two little beauties are said to be both yellow in colour, but tonight my retina was picking up yellow on the primary star and grey/light blue on the secondary. 

It's always intrigued  me as to how every observer will see different colour variations in the same star..

Hello Mars nice to see you again.....

Hello it was... as I haven't yet attempted observing Mars this time around. 

Tonight was "first martian light" for the Tal1.  

First martian light went well, the Tal1 exceeded my expectations, and delivered a wonderful view of the Northern polar cap. 

Now that I know that the Tal1 is up to the challenge, I'm hoping to be glued to the eyepiece over the next few weeks as the red planet draws closer and closer, until it closest approach on the 5th of March. 

This time around Mars will be 100.78 million km away. 

Thankfully this distance between our worlds will undoubtedly  thwart any possible Martian invaders, that might be spying our planet with envious eyes.....!!!  :))

Humbling to think that if you ever decided to walk to Mars, it would only take about 4000 years to complete the trek....  No wonder it's so difficult to obtain a decent image in the eyepiece...  :0))

Moonshine everywhere......

As the Moon was so prominent last night I had to try a quick capture afocally with my small digicam.

Only one thing left to do tonight before the observatory roof was parked up.......

Simply lean against the observatory roof opening....

NO cameras or telescopes , NO pencils and paper....and then just look up at the night sky....!!!

AND DREAM......!!!!  :0))