Mars

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Garibaldi
Posts: 3
Joined: January 7th, 2010, 10:32 am

Mars

Post by Garibaldi »

I'm bringing my kids up the HRP Observatory Friday night. Will Mars be on center atage through the main scope? And if so, at sufficient magnification for them to see more than a blurr?

btoman
Posts: 208
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 10:35 pm
Location: Baton Rouge

Re: Mars

Post by btoman »

Well, as for whether or not Mars will be center stage on the main scope...possibly later in the night, closer to the 10 PM closing time. Right now, Mars is rising, but the drop-out panel of the observatory dome is still not functioning so we have to wait until it gets high enough which is later in the evening. As we get later in the month, Mars will be higher in the sky at an earlier time so that won't be a problem. So again, it will depend on whether or not it gets high enough at the time.

As for how it will look...I'm no help there, sorry. I haven't viewed Mars through the 20" OGS upstairs. I HAVE used one of the 12" Dobs at the observatory to view Mars and while I was not able to see any surface detail on the planet such as ice caps, it was definitely more than a blur. You can see that it is a rust-colored ball! Now, the 20" will probably have a image and uses nicer eyepieces as well. Maybe someone will post that information for you that may know what you can expect.

I hope the sky is nice and clear tomorrow for you. Wear lots of layers, though, it's gonna be cold up in that open dome if they are able to open up for viewing. (Always weather permitting, of course.)

Good luck!

Garibaldi
Posts: 3
Joined: January 7th, 2010, 10:32 am

Re: Mars

Post by Garibaldi »

wow, thanks for replying so fast! We're still coming to see whatever we can see. I may pack my scope just in case the main dome is not open.
thanks again!

Christopher K.
Posts: 5317
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: Mars

Post by Christopher K. »

HRPO will be open Wednesday from 8pm to midnight for the close swingby of Mars. The viewing is free and for all ages. BREC staff and BRAS volunteers will be present; there will be refreshments. This will be the closest approach for four years.

Mars was known by the ancient peoples, since it is easily visible to the unaided eye. The late 19th-century belief by some that there were “canals” constructed by intelligent beings led Percival Lowell to found an observatory near Flagstaff, Arizona in 1894.

In 2002 it was announced the Mars Odyssey spacecraft had detected water ice close to the surface of the Red Planet. And early in 2009 it was revealed that some sort of outgassing of methane is taking place on the surface. Both geological and biological processes can create methane. According to NASA, “If microscopic Martian life is producing the methane, it likely resides far below the surface, where it's still warm enough for liquid water to exist. Liquid water, as well as energy sources and a supply of carbon, are necessary for all known forms of life.”

Mars' two moons, Phobos and Deimos, are among the darkest-surfaced objects in the solar system. Olympus Mons is the largest volcano in the solar system.

Technically, since the Earth orbits faster than Mars, it will be the Earth which will swing close by the Red Planet. It does this every twenty-six months.
During this close approach, Mars resides in the constellation Cancer, with an apparent diameter of 14" and only about 99 million kilometers away. In January 2009, Mars' apparent diameter was less than 4".

More information:
http://sci.esa.int/science-e/www/object ... ctid=13291
http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observin ... 10117.html

Christopher K.
Posts: 5317
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: Mars

Post by Christopher K. »

At this time on NASA-TV1 and NASA-TV2, a replay of the Smithsonian presentation "Sewing Machines, Balloons and Rocket Fuel: Developing the Next Generation of Mars Landing Technologies" is being broadcast. This program will also be shown on NASA-TV1 and NASA-TV2 at 8pm CST tonight, and 8am CST tomorrow morning.

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