Will Friday's view of Mars be so good?

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Offline Don_1

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Will Friday's view of Mars be so good?
« on: 29/01/2010 13:30:58 »
Quote from: Press Association
The Red Planet, now 62 million miles from Earth, will be at its brightest this year as it lines up opposite the Sun.

At around 9pm, Mars will be above and to the left of the Moon, about the length of an outstretched fist away.

A standard SLR camera fitted with a telephoto lens is all you need to capture the scene, says Robin Scagell, from the Society for Popular Astronomy.

"Mars is looking really quite red and impressive at the moment, and the Moon will be full, he said. "It's going to be a great sight and rather fun to look for.

"A telescope has too close a field of view, but with a 100mm telephoto lens you'd just about get them both in the picture, and you'll be able to see details on the Moon."

A pair of binoculars and a clear out-of-town sky will reveal an added bonus - the "beehive" star cluster - between the two objects, said Mr Scagell.

Mars is at its most spectacular when close to the Earth at opposition.

In 2003 the planet was just 35 million miles away as it faced the Sun, and more than four times brighter than it will be tomorrow night.

Is it going to be worth getting the camera out for? Clear skies are forecast for the UK on Friday night.
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Offline LeeE

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Will Friday's view of Mars be so good?
« Reply #1 on: 29/01/2010 17:40:00 »
Quote from: Press Association
In 2003 the planet was just 35 million miles away as it faced the Sun, and more than four times brighter than it will be tomorrow night.

I think that last figure of 35 million miles must have been a typo.  The semi-major axis of the Earth's orbit is 1.0000001124 AU and Mars's is 1.523679 AU.  As there's little eccentricity in both Earth's and Mars's you're looking at a minimum distance between them of ~ 0.5 AU, which is about ~46 million miles.

Oh, and just an amusing heads-up (don't know how long it'll stay like this)...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Earth
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!

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Offline Soul Surfer

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Will Friday's view of Mars be so good?
« Reply #2 on: 29/01/2010 18:44:04 »
Today's opposition is one of the most distant oppositions of Mars.  It just happens that at the moment Mars' orbit is quite elliptical and its furthest point from the sun is close to where Earth's orbit is closest to the sun so the difference in opposition distances is around 2 to 1.
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Offline Madidus_Scientia

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Will Friday's view of Mars be so good?
« Reply #3 on: 30/01/2010 03:45:49 »
rofl @ douglas adams reference

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Offline LeeE

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Will Friday's view of Mars be so good?
« Reply #4 on: 30/01/2010 22:51:32 »
Aw... they've changed it back to a simple re-direct  [:(]
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!

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Offline Madidus_Scientia

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Will Friday's view of Mars be so good?
« Reply #5 on: 31/01/2010 02:11:41 »
Change it again! :p

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Offline GlentoranMark

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Will Friday's view of Mars be so good?
« Reply #6 on: 31/01/2010 17:44:57 »
Did you take any photo's?

The difficulty is that the Moon is so many more times brighter than the planet and takes away from the show. Try looking tonight and the Moon will be well to the left of Mars and over the coming days it will travel further and further away. If you've never seen Mars then now is a really easy time to spot it. Remember what part of the sky its in and check again in a couple of nights. Mars will be just as bright but won't have the Moon drowning its light out.

To really appreciate it you need a semi large telescope (8ins reflector) even then because of its distance, it will be hard to make out features on it apart from the poles.

I've a 4 ins refractor in a very light polluted part of Belfast, Northern Ireland, its not really big enough for any detail but I'll see what I can snap over the coming nights when I attach a webcam to my scope.

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Offline SeanB

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Will Friday's view of Mars be so good?
« Reply #7 on: 31/01/2010 18:19:15 »
Dash and darn, it has been raining for the whole week, and now it is pouring down - no seeing the sky tonight

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Offline GlentoranMark

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Will Friday's view of Mars be so good?
« Reply #8 on: 31/01/2010 21:50:13 »
There's another good few months to see this planet  [;)]

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Offline Don_1

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Will Friday's view of Mars be so good?
« Reply #9 on: 01/02/2010 09:58:16 »
Quote
....with a 100mm telephoto lens you'd just about get them both in the picture, and you'll be able to see details on the Moon."

Did you take any photo's?

Well I decided to give it a go using my 18-200mm zoom lens.

Here are some results. Hardly what you could call spectacular.

Camera - Nikon D300
ISO - 800. Apeture priority.

[attachment=11186]

Mars.
Lens at 200mm f5.6 : 0.62 sec.

[attachment=11188]

Mars/Moon
Lens at 150mm f5.6 : 1/2 sec.

Where's it gone??? Who nicked the Moon??? It was there when uploaded that second pic. Quick, call the intergalactic police.
« Last Edit: 01/02/2010 10:06:02 by Don_1 »
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Offline RD

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Will Friday's view of Mars be so good?
« Reply #10 on: 01/02/2010 10:06:03 »
Your Mars-Moon photo is about ten stops overexposed.

IIRC the correct exposure for the moon is 1/125th f8 ISO 100 (or 1/250th f5.6 ISO 100) ...

[attachment=11192]

http://www.dpfwiw.com/moon.htm#full_moon
« Last Edit: 03/02/2010 01:52:16 by RD »

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Offline Don_1

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Will Friday's view of Mars be so good?
« Reply #11 on: 01/02/2010 10:12:28 »
Thanks RD, I'll remember that. Not something I've ever looked into, to be honest.
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Offline RD

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Will Friday's view of Mars be so good?
« Reply #12 on: 01/02/2010 10:24:20 »
Who nicked the Moon??? It was there when uploaded that second pic.

In this forum the maximum width of a picture inserted into a post is about 750 pixels, e.g.

[attachment=11190]