Thursday, June 2, 2016

Mars in the Palms!

Mars is a challenging target. At favorable oppositions, the planet is low in the sky for observers in the Northern Hemisphere. From my Indiana location, it will never rise above the treeline for this opposition. Indiana is 40 degrees north; the Isle of Palms 32 degrees north, which places Mars a little higher in the sky (there was a huge splash in the pond next to our house as I was writing the last sentence and a huge alligator reared up out of the water--I wonder if astronomer is on their favorite foods list...).

Mars is still low in the sky here, and I had to move the scope a few times to find a gap in the trees, but the VRC 6 pulled out a pretty nice image. Margaritifer Sinus and Aurorae Sinus are visible at the upper right of the disc, and the Niliacus Lacus area at the lower left. This image was created from a stack of the best 200 frames from a 700 frame avi, stacked in Registax with unsharp mask processing in Photoshop. I've included the cropped and uncropped images for comparison.