Resources for Observing Mars

January 26th, 2014

In the year 2014 the planet Mars will be at opposition and close to our planet Earth.

Listed below are some sites on how to observe the planet Mars and detail information on the 2014 opposition.

This information is from the presentation at the LAS regular meeting

Software and web sites with information on onsrving the planet Mars.

Mars Preview II

http://www.skyandtelescope.com/resources/software/

Mars Profiler

http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/planets

Websites about observing Mars

Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers (ALPO)

Download observing forms http://alpo-astronomy.org/

British Astronomical Association (BAA)

Mars Section http://www.britastro.org/mars/

General Information – Observing Mars

http://www.alpo-astronomy.org/jbeish/2014_MARS.htm

Links to other sites are found on the ALPO and BBA sites.

Using filters to view Mars:

Yellow (W8) Enhances Martian cloud details.

Yellow (W12, W15) to brighten desert regions, darkens bluish and brownish features.

Orange (W21, W23A) further increases contrast between light and dark features, penetrates hazes and most clouds, and limited detection of dust clouds.

Red (W25, W29) gives maximum contrast of surface features, enhances fine surface details, dust clouds boundaries, and polar cap boundaries.

Yellow-green (W57,W11) darkens red and blue features, enhances frost patches, surface fogs, and polar projections.

Blue-Green (W64) helps detect ice-fogs and polar hazes.

Blue (W80A, W38, W38A) and deep blue (W46, W47) shows atmospheric clouds, discrete white clouds, and limb hazes, equatorial cloud bands, polar cloud hoods, and darkens reddish features.

Wratten Filter Numbers and color guide

Wratten Color

#8 light yellow

#11 yellow-green *

#12 yellow

#15 dark yellow

#21 orange

#23A light red

#25 red

#30,#32 magenta

#38,#38A light blue

#46,#47 violet or deep blue

#56 light green

#57 yellow green *

#58 green

#64 blue-green

#80A median blue

#82A light blue

Neutral density These filters simply darken bright objects and reduce glare for better resolution of details.

More information on color filters below:

http://lackawannaastronomicalsociety.org/?p=1254

Searching For Comet C/2011 L4 PANSTARRS

January 15th, 2013

Expectations of the appearance of Comet C/2012 L4 PANSTARRS is running high since the first solution it’s orbit. Magnitudes are expected in the minus range, sporting a long broad tail after sunset. I’ve seen the preview of this picture before, withthe repeat to follow at the end of the year.

First item to consider is the comet will be close to the Sun and the horizon when it reaches peak brightness. The comet will slowly move from the southeast of the setting Sun, moving northward and gradually higher each night. It will share the twilight sky with a crescent Moon and later light of the First Quarter Moon.

And that’s a description of the path the comet will take. This all happens in mid March in North Eastern Pennsylvania, not the most forgiving of weather around here most of the time. Dark clouds silhouetted against a light blue sky, winds whipping from the west, and with snow on the ground or sub freezing temperature. The regional weather can hinder viewing this comet, do you recall looking for comet C/2006 P1 Mc Naught in January 2007? Searching the western horizon for the coma or tail between broken layers of clouds each night.

Comet Hale-Bopp came around in March and April of 1997, it was in the northern sky, farther from the setting Sun and moving towards the north west. Weather conditions cooperated that year, moderate temperature, no snow on the ground and many clear nights without clouds made for many clear views of Hale-Bopp. March weather the year before and the year after Hale-Bopp were more typical of the start of spring. Cloudy skies, cold temperature and snow on the ground.

C/2012 L4 PANSTARRS is moving in the opposite direction, hence it will be viewed in twilight skies for a while as it quickly sets before the sky becomes completely dark. To rub it in, Daylight Savings Time begins as the comet appears. Make any required adjustments to your computer, planetarium software, or computer controlled telescopes.

If you must travel to a location to get a good view of the western sky, then binoculars would be the first instrument to use when searching the twilight sky for C/2012 L4 PANSTARRS. A digital SLR camera or a Point and Shoot on a tripod will give results with exposure of less than 20 seconds for focal length of 50 mm. Take many pictures as the every changing twilight sky will affect the exposure time. This would be good practice for the next comet at the end of the year.

Use software to calibrate, if you also take Darks and Flat images,to process and to stack the individual images. The list of software to examine included, RegiStaX, Deep Sky Stacker both freeware. Photoshop, CCDStack, MaximDL are commercial software, the later two astrophotography packages.

Plan ahead if you are setting up a telescope to view or take pictures. If it is a computer controlled telescope mount then, you may need the use the Moon or Sun to fix the scope’s position before you can slew the telescope to the comet. Arrive early to set up and wait for the comet to appear.

Here are the position of the comet at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time using a conservative magnitude estimate from Guide8 software. Remember the comet will be seen in a twilight sky, not against the dark night sky. Magnitudes will be difficult in a twilight sky, frustrating with moving clouds on the horizon.

Addition Jan 20, 2013

New magnitude estimate by Sechii Yoshida  put the comet at magnitude  2 or magnitude 3 at brightest.  http://www.aerith.net/comet/catalog/2011L4/2011L4.html

This reminds me of the appearance of comet Bradfield 1974 b (C/1974 C1) in March  1974.  Comet Bradfield  perihelon to the Sun was 0.5 AU,  higher in the sky at sunset and seen better as darkness fell. It traced a path in the western sky similar to what C/2012 L4 PANSTARRS will due this March. Comet Bradfiled reach 5 th magnitude back in 1974,  C/2012 L4 PANSTARRS will be closer to the horizon than comet Bradfield.

PANSTARRS (C/2011 L4) Magnitude listed are assumptions

Date                                    RA          declination       r     delta mag Elong Alt Azim    Sun el

—-                                       –             ———–          -       —–    —   —–  ——   ——     —–

9 Mar 2013 19:30:59 00h21m52.73s -05 34′ 33.2″ 0.3016 1.1092 0.5 15.2 4.31 258.73 -6.1

10 Mar 2013 19:30:59 00h25m12.39s -02 55′ 44.1″ 0.3026 1.1144 0.5 15.1 5.98 260.79 -5.9

11 Mar 2013 19:30:59 00h27m56.28s -00 19′ 00.0″ 0.3068 1.1203 0.6 15.2 7.51 262.95 -5.7

12 Mar 2013 19:30:59 00h30m07.40s +02 14′ 25.0″ 0.3141 1.1266 0.7 15.5 8.89 265.16 -5.5

13 Mar 2013 19:30:59 00h31m49.45s +04 43′ 33.4″ 0.3240 1.1333 0.9 15.8 10.13 267.43 -5.2

14 Mar 2013 19:30:59 00h33m06.40s +07 07′ 45.3″ 0.3364 1.1402 1.1 16.4 11.21 269.71 -5.0

15 Mar 2013 19:30:59 00h34m02.20s +09 26′ 37.9″ 0.3509 1.1474 1.3 17.0 12.17 271.99 -4.8

16 Mar 2013 19:30:59 00h34m40.49s +11 40′ 02.6″ 0.3671 1.1548 1.5 17.7 13.00 274.26 -4.6

17 Mar 2013 19:30:59 00h35m04.52s +13 48′ 01.7″ 0.3848 1.1624 1.7 18.5 13.72 276.51 -4.4

18 Mar 2013 19:30:59 00h35m17.06s +15 50′ 45.1″ 0.4035 1.1700 1.9 19.4 14.34 278.72 -4.2

19 Mar 2013 19:30:59 00h35m20.43s +17 48′ 27.1″ 0.4232 1.1778 2.1 20.3 14.87 280.90 -4.0

20 Mar 2013 19:30:59 00h35m16.52s +19 41′ 24.9″ 0.4436 1.1857 2.3 21.3 15.33 283.03 -3.8

21 Mar 2013 19:30:59 00h35m06.89s +21 29′ 56.8″ 0.4645 1.1936 2.6 22.2 15.73 285.11 -3.6

22 Mar 2013 19:30:59 00h34m52.77s +23 14′ 21.0″ 0.4858 1.2016 2.8 23.2 16.08 287.15 -3.4

23 Mar 2013 19:30:59 00h34m35.18s +24 54′ 55.5″ 0.5074 1.2097 3.0 24.2 16.38 289.14 -3.2

24 Mar 2013 19:30:59 00h34m14.90s +26 31′ 57.2″ 0.5293 1.2178 3.2 25.2 16.64 291.08 -3.0

25 Mar 2013 19:30:59 00h33m52.57s +28 05′ 42.1″ 0.5513 1.2259 3.4 26.2 16.87 292.98 -2.8

26 Mar 2013 19:30:59 00h33m28.70s +29 36′ 25.0″ 0.5734 1.2341 3.5 27.2 17.07 294.84 -2.6

27 Mar 2013 19:30:59 00h33m03.69s +31 04′ 19.6″ 0.5955 1.2423 3.7 28.2 17.25 296.65 -2.4

28 Mar 2013 19:30:59 00h32m37.84s +32 29′ 38.5″ 0.6176 1.2506 3.9 29.2 17.41 298.42 -2.2

29 Mar 2013 19:30:59 00h32m11.40s +33 52′ 33.4″ 0.6398 1.2588 4.1 30.2 17.56 300.15 -2.0

30 Mar 2013 19:30:59 00h31m44.55s +35 13′ 14.7″ 0.6619 1.2671 4.2 31.2 17.70 301.84 -1.8

31 Mar 2013 19:30:59 00h31m17.42s +36 31′ 52.2″ 0.6839 1.2754 4.4 32.2 17.84 303.50 -1.6

1 Apr 2013 19:30:59 00h30m50.13s +37 48′ 34.9″ 0.7058 1.2837 4.5 33.1 17.96 305.12 -1.4

2 Apr 2013 19:30:59 00h30m22.72s +39 03′ 30.9″ 0.7277 1.2920 4.7 34.1 18.09 306.71 -1.2

3 Apr 2013 19:30:59 00h29m55.23s +40 16′ 47.6″ 0.7495 1.3003 4.8 35.0 18.21 308.27 -1.0

4 Apr 2013 19:30:59 00h29m27.68s +41 28′ 32.0″ 0.7712 1.3086 5.0 36.0 18.34 309.80 -0.8

5 Apr 2013 19:30:59 00h29m00.05s +42 38′ 50.2″ 0.7927 1.3169 5.1 36.9 18.47 311.30 -0.6

6 Apr 2013 19:30:59 00h28m32.31s +43 47′ 48.1″ 0.8142 1.3251 5.2 37.8 18.60 312.77 -0.4

7 Apr 2013 19:30:59 00h28m04.42s +44 55′ 31.0″ 0.8355 1.3334 5.3 38.7 18.73 314.21 -0.2

8 Apr 2013 19:30:59 00h27m36.31s +46 02′ 03.6″ 0.8567 1.3417 5.5 39.6 18.88 315.63 0.0

Color Filters for the Planets

May 11th, 2012

This PDF file contains the tables and notes used the PowerPoint program that was given at the regular club meeting this year. The first section list each planet and the filters best suited to improve or enhance various visual planetary features. A narative description of the visual performance is present by Wratten filter number and color type desciption. 

A table format is next, listing each Planet, planet feature and filter most suited to enhance the visual viewing of the feature. This is good to use at the scope since it fits on on 8 x 10 sheet of paper.

The last section list the Wratten number, the planet it is to be used on and the feature on the planet the filter will enhance. This is the most common method that suppliers and dealers display their filters.

Download the pdf file Useful Filters for Planets

 

Here are Internet web sites that provide more information Color Filter for the planets.

The Abbey Road Observatory – http://www.karmalimbo.com/aro/index.htm

Observing the Planets with Color Filters – http://alpo-astronomy.org/mars/articles/FILTERS1.HTM

Meade Filters – http://www.meade.com/catalog/meade_4000/meade_series_4000_filters_02.htm

The Meade 4000 Series – http://www.analyticalsci.com/Astronomy/Filters/Filters_Described_Meade.htm

Celestron – http://www.celestron.com/astronomy/accessories/filters.html

Celestron Kits – http://www.celestron.com/astronomy/accessories/eyepieces/accessory-kits.html

 

These three include Solar and DeepSky Filter, which I did not cover in te PowerPoint slide show.

The Use of Filters – http://zeca.astronomos.com.br/pratica/filtros/The_Use_of_Filters.htm

Optical Filter Guide – http://www.myastroshop.com.au/guides/filters.asp

Nebula Filter comparison on Deep Sky Objects – http://www.prairieastronomyclub.org/filtercomparisons.htm

Transit of Venus 2012

April 22nd, 2012
 
 Looking at the LAS 2012 calendar the club published and sold this year, you may have notice two line items for June 5, 2012. The first is the regular monthly meeting of the LAS, followed by the Transit of Venus. I compliment the club founders on their foresight on choosing the first Tuesday of each month in order for this rare event to fall on the same day. That’s advance planning at its finest.
 
 The viewing time circumstance of this transit is opposite of the June 8, 2004 event that was seen by the club members during sunrise. A hardy group gather before sunrise, ready their scopes and filters to witness the planet Venus against the solar background as the Sun rose on that summer morning. They were not disappointed for their efforts, with the added bonus of seeing Venus without the use of filters as the Sun rose in a low fog bank. We watched the end of the transit as Venus exit from in front of the solar surface.
 
 In 2012 the Transit of Venus be visible in our location during the late afternoon into early evening hours. Approximately 2.5 hours before sunset Venus will begin transiting the Sun, appearing on the solar limb at 6:03 pm EDT. The altitude of the Sun at that time is 25.7 degrees from the western horizon.

More information about the Venus Transit and safe viewing of the transit can be found on these web sites.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Information about the Transit of Venus will be the topic of the regular meeting on May 1, 2012. Those bring scopes to view or photograph the transit should park in the field near the LAS roll off observatory. The time that the gate will open will be anounce at the meeting and in the future e-mail to club members.