Last updated: 23 June 2001

Subject:	Mars -- very cool!!
Sent:	Thursday, June 21, 2001 23:58:29
From:	stantstk@pacbell.net (Stan Glaser)
Spent about an hour this evening (6/21/2001, 10:15-11:15 PST) just
observing Mars through my ETX-90EC -- hey, closest approach deserves
some time, right? Very nice at all magnifications. Quite small in the
26mm, but very sharp. Popped in my 18mm SWA which brought out a little
more detail. Finally switched over to my 9.7mm -- could easily make out
bright patches at 2 o'clock and 7 o'clock -- the polar ice caps!! The
larger one towards the south took on a blue tint -- my wife confirmed. I
then went full bore and added my 2X Barlow -- pushed my little baby to
the limit, but she held in there. Image was a bit fainter and a tiny bit
fuzzy, but with some averted vision and perseverance, was able to make
out some surface features -- faint darker areas among the brighter,
generally pinkish orb. The little Martian aliens began to attack about
half way through my session, but I held in there (I think they call them
"mosquitoes" here on Earth). But after an hour, they won out.

I usually run on AC power, but tonight just did a quick two-star
easy-align on internal batteries. First to Vega, then to Antares, and
confirmed alignment -- Mars was only a few degrees away. Did a GOTO and
the ETX managed to keep it centered almost the entire hour. Made a
couple of minor midcourse corrections; even though the batteries were
somewhat low, I was impressed. I love my scope!! (If only I could
afford, lift, and find a place to stow a 24-incher, I'd use my trusty
ETX-90EC as a finderscope. Until then, it's my scope of choice!!)

Take care -- and clear skies...
Stan Glaser


Mike here: On 6/17/01, I had a clear night and decided to use the ETX-125EC to view Mars, who was riding about as high as it would get in the Southern Sky. It was beautiful with the 26mm and then 9.7mm (196X). Syrtis Major was easily seen. Seeing was pretty good so I decided to push it and add the 2X Barlow Lens to the 9.7mm (392X). Wow! Both the South Polar Ice Cap and the Northern Polar Ice Shield were visible (using various filters)!

Subject:	Re: Mars observation - In L.A.!
Sent:	Saturday, May 5, 2001 07:57:44
From:	dmsherrell@earthlink.net (Donald M. Sherrell)
I arose this morning at 0445  and quickly set up my ETX125EC on my west
facing balcony. Did a quick two star alignment (using only s/w and n/w
stars) and quickly went directly to Mars.

I continued to observe Mars even though local sunrise was at 0500 at
0548 I lost visual contact but my scope continued to track Mars as the
dawn sky went from Black to a beautiful Light Blue Mars faded into this
clear dawn at 0701.  WOW! It was pure joy to let my scope perform.

Donald M. Sherrell
Studio City, CA

P.S.  Please feel free to post the up on your great website if you wish.
Mike here: I was out this morning at 0300-0445 from my backyard on the Palos Verdes Peninsula looking at Mars, the Moon, and M57. This was my first night out with the new Autostar 2.2Ef and it worked perfectly. And yes, Mars was really nice. It will be even nicer next month! But this morning the view through the ETX-125EC with the 9.7mm eyepiece (196X) was good. I tried to use the 9.7mm with a 2X Barlow lens but that was too much given the low altitude of Mars (even though it was near my meridian). But at 196X I could see a Polar Ice Cap and a couple of dark areas, one near the limb. There wasn't much change evident when using a Light Blue #8 filter. With a Orange #21 filter the contrast was increased, making the dark areas even more apparent.

Subject:	early observations of Mars
Sent:	Monday, April 30, 2001 11:55:10
From:	sherrodc@ipa.net (Clay Sherrod)
Some Early Observations of Mars

Although Mars is still tucked away in the very early morning skies in
the starry constellation of Scorpius, it is not too early to begin your
observing regime of the red planet.  Now about 50 million miles from the
Earth and closing rapidly, Mars at the beginning of May is showing a
nice ruddy disk some 14" diameter.  By comparison, this is only 1/3 the
total diameter of Jupiter.

Nonetheless, you can tell by the attached drawing made from 04:40 to
05:10 CDT on the morning of April 30, 2001 with views from both the ETX
125 and the LX 90 that Mars is looking pretty nice already.  This
drawing made under the steadiest skies of the year was made from behind
my home amidst tremendous light pollution.  For the bright planets,
there is no advantage to observe from my dark location of Petit Jean
Mountain as darkened skies rarely have any positive bearing on the
"steadiness" of the air.

To the trained eye, there is already a wealth of detail visible; do not expect to see all of this immediately; you must learn to "rest" your eye at the eyepiece and allow your mind to accept subtle detail as the atmospheric turbulence of Earth permits. On this particular night, I was observing through a thick blanket of FOG and much heavy dew, which steadied the atmosphere to an incredible "10" on a scale of "10." For details on observing the Martian surface with your ETX or LX 90 telescope, check out the link here to my "Observing the Planets: Mars" on Mike Weasner's ETX site: http://www.weasner.com/etx/ref_guides/mars.html I used the Meade 4.7mm Ultra Wide Angle eyepiece which gave a straight magnification of 427x on both scopes. There were several times when I was actually able to use the 2x barlow on the LX 90 and reach the incredible magnification of 854x to reveal detail not seen at the lower power. Note that this is a very rare situation, and over 400x is normally too much magnification. The night was so incredibly still, however that the high magnifications seemed "easy." Also used for this image was the #21 Orange filter which allows specific wavelengths to pass from the Martian surface and thus enhance detail not seen with the unfiltered image. On the extreme right limb (west) just above center, you can see the development of a fairly large dust area, and the south polar cap is clearly beginning to show inner detail as it thaws toward Martian summer. Summertime, with its heavy inversion layers that "cap" the Earth's air around you, is an ideal time for planetary viewing; my first serious study of Mars was the opposition of 1971, in August, when the steamy summer nights were nearly unbearable, but provided some of the steadiest views I have ever had of the planet. Opposition, when Mars will be its largest and brightest, will occur in mid-June; at that time, the red planet will culminate (pass it highest point overhead, exactly opposite the sun from the Earth) at midnight and set about the time the sun rises. Don't miss these precious days to observe Mars at its closest in many years! P. Clay Sherrod Arkansas Sky Observatory Conway / Petit Jean Mountain Arkansas

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