Mars Night at Coleman Observatory Oct 29th
Wednesday, October 19 2005 @ 09:45 pm EDT
Contributed by: bobmoody
UPDATE: October 29th saw upwards of 85 visitors at Coleman Observatory to enjoy views of Mars. Telescopes of every type and from 5" diameter up to the 14" aperture of our primary instrument were used, and will again be in use for the next Mars Star Party on November 5th! Come to Coleman Observatory and join us before Mars begins to rapidly shrink in size after mid-November.
Mars marks its closest point to Earth since 2003 on Saturday, October 29th, at a distance of "merely" 43,000,000 miles away. Join members of AOAS at our Coleman Observatory located 8 mi. NW of Van Buren for the best views of the mythological Roman "God of War" until 2018!
It's a fact, Mars is as close to Earth as it'll be for the next 13 years on the 29th of October and the public is invited to come out and see it with us through our telescopes. The viewing begins at sunset that evening with brilliant Venus in the SW skies. Then we'll watch as Mars slowly creeps above the eastern horizon shortly after sunset. By 7:45, Mars will be high enough to view through most of the telescopes we have on site, but as the evening progresses and Mars continues rising, the views will just get better and better.
|AOAS member Jeff Treshnell captured this image of Mars through his telescope in 2003. This is very similar to what the view of Mars will look like through the telescopes at Coleman Observatory on the weekends of October 29th and November 5th. The public is invited to both events, and as always there are NO FEES to share the views of our universe with us. UPDATE: Visitors to Coleman Observatory on Oct 29th saw virtually the exact same view of Mars as is depicted here. If you missed it last Saturday, join us again THIS Saturday, Nov 5th.
The reason for this is simple. Low on the horizon, we view objects through the thickest part of Earth's atmosphere. You are literally seeing every object near the horizon through a couple hundred miles of haze, water vapor, pollution, etc. The best views of a planet like Mars comes after it has risen at least 30 degrees or more above the horizon where the atmosphere is less than 40 miles thick.
Between there and the time when it reaches a point overhead known as the zenith, you'll see the most detail available through whatever size and type of telescope you're viewing with. The best views of Mars will be between around 9:00 p.m. and midnight. For any night owl visitors who stay even later, those great views will continue until as late as 3:00 a.m. when Mars once again begins to sink into the thicker parts of our atmosphere in the western sky.
Mars will be well placed for viewing from mid-October through late November. For this reason, AOAS and Coleman Observatory will host a second public night on November 5th, the Saturday after the 29th. This will give everyone ample opportunities to come and view Mars at its best during this apparition.
Click "read more" for the rest of this story.
The two images of Mars in this story were both captured with simple Canon PowerShot digital cameras that were placed close to the eyepiece. Jeff Treshnell used his PowerShot A20 for the top image in addition to an adapter that held the camera motionless as the timer recorded the image automatically. My image below was taken with a PowerShot A10 which I simply held up to the eyepiece of my telescope as I clicked the shutter. I set the camera's zoom function to its maximum setting of 6X, but everything else was on automatic settings. ANYONE can take similar images with your own digital cameras anytime you join us for viewing through our telescopes.
Mars becomes a wonderful target for telescopes of all sizes for only a couple of years each time it makes one of its closest approaches to Earth. After this year's apparition, Mars won't be this well placed or this close again until 2018, and then once again in 2020.
Why wait? Join us at Coleman Observatory for FREE views of the Red Planet on either October 29th or November 5th, or why not even on BOTH nights. We'll be looking forward to seeing everyone there.