HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE PICTURE OF MARS
UPDATED 11th April 2014
ITEMS FOR MARS
MARS OPPOSITION INFORMATION
The red planet Mars will not be this closes again until 2016. Even small telescopes (70mm Refractor and over, or 114mm Reflector and over) will recognise its face and some features on the planet's surface.
FEATURES OF MARS, PROFILE AND STATISTICS
The disk (face) of Mars will have around 15 arc seconds of angular diameter (how big it is). 1 degree = 60 minutes, 1 minute = 60 seconds. Using trigonometry, knowing the diameter of the planet allows us to calculate its distance, and visa versa.
WHERE'S IT HAPPENING
Mars generally follows the same path as the Sun and Moon across the sky, except it has it own rise and set times. This year Mars will be very close to the Ecliptic, which is the path of the Sun accross the sky. The rise and set times are similar to the Sun and Moon as in they don't change a great deal from day to day. So once you found the brightest, red star rising in the east, and setting in the west, then its easy to keep track of the planet. Rise and set times will depend on your location.
Mars, on the 9th of April, will be 0.62 Astronomical Units (AU) from Earth (60 million miles or 96 million kms). An Astronomical Unit is the mean (average) distance from the center of the Earth from the center of the Sun (149,600,000km).
The Red Planet will be in the constellation of Virgo during opposition.
In May, the Earth will overtake Mars due to our inside orbit (shorter path). As we overtake, Mars will appear to move backwards in the night sky. This is call retrograde motion. A planet moves from east to west due to the Earth's rotation, same as the Sun and Moon etc., but a planet actually moves slowly east through the field of stars, due to the Earths movement around the Sun. During retrograde motion, it will stop for a short while, start moving in the opposite direction, to the west. Eventually, it will stop again, and continue moving east! During the Retrograde Motion, the observed planet making the Retrograde Movement, does a little loop in the sky. This loop is called an Epicycle.
WHEN'S IT HAPPENING
On the 14th of April, Mars will be at its closest. This will provide the best seeing for telescopes
The red planet will be at Opposition or Conjunction a week earlier on the 9th of April. Opposition or Conjunction means an alignment of 3 celestial objects. In this case Mars, Earth and Sun will be in alignment, with the Earth in the middle.
Leading up to the opposition, Mars will increase in size and brightness, and after opposition, reduce in size and brightness. If you're using a telescope, then the best place in the world to be is on, or around, the Tropic of Capricorn. Locations like French Polynesia, Samoa, Tonga and Fiji, Noumea, Townsville Australia, Madagaska, Namibia, Rio De Janeiro and Paraguay to name a few as we travel east along the Tropic. At these locations Mars is straight overhead. Its more important to have Mars directly overhead (as much as possible) than to observe at the exact time when its closest. Having the planet overhead reduces how much atmosphere we have to look through.
MORE MARS INFORMATIONBRIGHTNESS
As Mars reaches its closest point, it will be very close to opposition (approx. lining up of three objects in this case Sun, Earth and Mars). At this point Mars will also be at its brightest, reflecting the Sun's light. Mars will be around magnitude -1.5
One of the best sites I've found on the Mars opposition is the 2013-2014 Aphelic Apparition Of Mars web
NASA's Mars Exploration Program
NASA's Mars Global Surveyor
The Mars Society
Did life come from Mars? The Mars Meteorite
Exploring the planets
ITEMS FOR MARSTELESCOPES DESIGNED FOR THE PLANETS AND MOON
Telescopes which have a long Focal Ratio are best designed for planetary use. Refracting telescopes are included as being good planetary telescopes. Larger telescopes will also have the advantage of seeing Mars clearly.
PHILIPS ToUcam 900NC Plus Software - for Astronomy - or just a great web cam!
The Philips ToUcam 900NC Digital CCD Camera can be mounted onto a telescope to produce images on your PC of celestial objects and more. The camera has the ability of seeing in low light, without snowing, making it excellent for astronomy.
Amateur astronomers using the ToUcam in short, or modified for long exposures:
The Worlds Best Photos of the ToUcamStudent Moon Images by the Fresno State Campus Observatory:
All about ToUcam Webcams
Free Download Software for enhancing the ToUcam astronomical images:
Information and technical data on the Philips ToUcam 900NC can be seen here:
PHILIPS ToUcam 900NC ACCESSORIES
- 1.25" Baffled, Anodised and Threaded for Filters Adaptor $55AUD
Unscrew the ToUcam lens and replace with this adaptor for a 1.25" diameter focuser.
- 1.25" Threaded, Anodised for Filters Adaptor $30AUD
Unscrew the ToUcam lens and replace with this adaptor for a 1.25" diameter focuser.
- ToUcam T Thread Adaptor $45AUD
The ToUcam lens is removed and this adaptor is screwed in its place. It has a T Thread which allows the adaptor to screw onto our 40mm Plossl with T Thread, 2x Barlow/Adaptor/Filter, or Eyepiece Projection Adaptor.
- Eyepiece Projection Adaptors $45AUD
The adaptor is of the common type which replaces the eyepiece in the telescope's focuser. These adaptors allow an eyepiece to be placed into the Adaptor for Eyepiece Projection Photography. The adaptors have a T Thread which screw onto the ToUcam T Thread Adaptor.
- Variable Eyepiece Projection Adaptors $65AUD
Same as above except allows wider, longer Eyepieces, with adjustment. These adaptors allow an eyepiece to be placed into the Adaptor for Eyepiece Projection Photography. The adaptors have a T Thread which screw onto the ToUcam T Thread Adaptor.
The use of the correct IR (Infra Red) Filter makes focusing easier and reduces the bright stars to finer points.
- Baader UV/IR rejection Filters $80AUD
- Schott BG-39 IR (Infra Red) Cut Filters to suit 1.25" Eyepieces $60AUD
- Minus Violet Filters $110AUD
Minus Violet Filters are used on refractors or reflectors primarily to negate the effects of Violet and Ultra Violet light, thus eliminating the blue halos around stars and planets. The problem is mainly with refractors, who's light does not converge correctly particularly with Achromatic systems. Minus Violet Filters also reduce light pollution slightly, if the wave length is below around 400nm.
- Achromatic 2x Barlow (with T Thread)/Adaptor/Filter Holder $55AUD
This Barlow is able to do a number of things. Firstly, its a achromatic 2x Barlow. Secondly, its a camera adaptor, which is T Threaded, and only the T Thread Adaptor is needed to suit your brand of camera or ToUcam. Photos can then be taken through a telescope at higher magnification without using an eyepiece. Thirdly, the Barlow's lens can be removed by unscrewing for true focal projection photography. Fourthly, with the Barlow's lens removed, filters can be screwed in.
- Baader Hyperion Zoom 2.25x Barlow $175AUD
- Celestron 2x Apochromatic Barlow $290AUD
- Achromatic 3x Barlow $60AUD
- Revelation 5x Barlow $120AUD
- Focal Reducers 0.6x $95AUD
The focal ratio of your telescope is reduced by 0.6x using the Focal Reducer. eg. F/10 becomes F/6. A shorter focal ratio gives a wider field of view and shorter exposure times.
- Focal Reducers 0.3x Extender $30AUD
(eye observation may be difficult, camera use only) The Extender shortens the focal ratio of the Focal Reducer 0.6x even further giving an even wider field of view.
40mm Plossl with T Thread - 40mm Wide Angle Eyepiece with T Thread $130
We are now producing 1.25" (32mm) diameter eyepieces which have a focal length of 40mm and a T Thread on the end. The T Thread enables many adaptors and T Rings to fit onto the eyepiece. The clear aperture lens is flat and positioned close to the end of the eyepiece, to keep it as close to the camera as possible, widening the field. There are a number of advantages to the system. Firstly, a wide eyepiece entry hole (clear aperture) of 26mm allowing a wider field of view for the camera. Secondly, low magnification which doesn't spread the light of the object as much. Magnification is derived by dividing 40mm into your telescope's focal length in mm. Thirdly, other adaptors are not needed to connect the camera to an eyepiece, only a T Ring thread. Fourthly, the eyepiece can still be used as a 40mm. Last of all, the system is less than half the price of other, similar systems.
USB EXTENSION CABLES
- 5m Extension cables are available for $18AUD.
This extends the total cable length to 7.2m. Please contact us for longer lengths.
HIGH MAGNIFICATION EYEPIECES
For those who don't have a high magnification eyepiece for the planets, we have a number available. Divide the Focal Length of your telescope by the Focal Length of the eyepiece to obtain its magnification. Generally, the higher the magnification used, the better the quality of the eyepiece needs to be.
The amount of turbulence in the atmosphere determines how high a magnification can be used. The maximum magnification which can be used by larger telescopes (8" or above) is usually limited to around 300x on a good night. Otherwise, as a general guide, double the diameter of your telescope in millimeters. eg. 70mm = 140x magnification. This may vary, depending on different factors.
1.25" (32mm) diameter Plossls
- Eyepieces have 4 elements. Barrels are replaced for better performance. Stars stay the same right across the whole field of view.
William Optics Orthoscopics Super Planetary - 7 Elements
3mm - $120AUD
6mm - $120AUD
12.5mm - $120AUD
Baader Classic Orthoscopic
6mm - $98AUD
10mm - $98AUD
18mm - $98AUD
Harry Siebert SS3 Orthoscopic
3.9mm - $180AUD
4.9mm - $180AUD
5.4mm - $180AUD
7mm - $180AUD
Other Focal lengths (magnifications) available
FILTER KITS $55AUD
Filter Sets: Red #23A, Green #58A, Blue #82A, Yellow #8
I've been asked a few times which filters are best for what. Here's the info:
NO. 8 DEEP YELLOW $15AUD
Moon - Enhance lunar features.
Jupiter - Penetrates and darkens atmospheric current containing low hue blue tones. Enhances orange and red features of the belts and zones. Useful for studies of the polar regions.
Mars - Reduces the light from blue and green areas which darken the maria, oases and canal markings while lightening the orangish desert regions. Also sharpens the boundaries of yellow dust clouds.
Neptune - Improves detail in larger telescopes (11" and larger apertures).
Saturn - Penetrates and darkens the atmospheric currents containing low-hue blue tones and enhances the orange and red features of bands and zones.
Uranus - Improves detail in larger telescopes (11" and larger apertures).
NO. 23A LIGHT RED $15AUD
Moon - Enhances lunar features.
Mars - Reduces the light from the blue and green areas which darkens the maria, oases and canal markings while lightening the orangish desert regions. Also sharpens the boundaries of yellow dust clouds.
Mercury - Improves observation at twilight when the planet is low near the horizon and in daylight it reduces the brightness of the blue sky to enhance surface features.
Saturn - Useful for studying the bluer clouds and the polar regions.
Venus - For daylight observing it reduces the brightness of the blue sky. Occasionally deformations of the terminator are visible.
Comets - Improves definition of comet dust trails.
Solar - When using Mylar Solar Filters, this filter will give you true colour rendition.
NO. 82A LIGHT BLUE $15AUD
Moon - Greatly enhances lunar details under dark sky conditions.
Jupiter - Enhances the boundaries between the reddish belts and adjacent bright zones. Also useful on the Great Red Spot.
Mars - Very useful during the violet clearing. Helpful in the study of surface features and polar caps.
Mercury - Improves observation of dusky surface markings at twilight when the planet is low near the horizon.
Saturn - Enhances low-contrast details of dark shadings in upper Venusian clouds.
Comets - Brings out the best definition in comet gas tails.
NO. 58A GREEN $15AUD
Moon - Enhances lunar features.
Jupiter - Increases the visibility of the Great Red Spot. Useful for observing the low-contrast hues of blue and red that exist in the Jovian atmosphere.
Mars - Excellent for increased contrast of Martian polar caps, low clouds and yellowish dust storms.
Saturn - Enhances white features in the Saturnian atmosphere.
Venus - Useful for Venusian cloud pattern studies.
Comets - Useful for brighter comets.
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