December 1988

Mars Observations

These drawings of Mars were made in my sketch book later from the notes and drawings taken at the time, as colour was not possible to print, the black ink drawings below were submitted to the MIRA editor.

95 %  Illumination     18,7" Angular size      Mag  -1.7
45,000,000 miles approx.

Telescope 114 mm catadioptic  250x magnification,  no filters,

Date 1988 / 10 / 29,  21.45 to 22.00 U.T.                     1988 / 10 / 30,  1.30 to 1.50 U.T.

Cold and frosty night with the seeing good to very good.  The moon was 19 days old, in view and causing lots of sky glow.  South pole of Mars faint but it was the lightest area.  The planet looked not quite round. After midnight the seeing had improved and details would suddenly appear, darker on the eastern side.

Observer Ivor Clarke,

The following contains a selection of observations of Mars by local amateur astronomers with various instruments which shows some of the surface markings that can be studied on this planet.

1988 Sept 8,  22.58 UT              1988 Sept 11,  22.43 UT            1988 Sept 21,  00.13 UT
CM 21.3°                                  CM 351.7°                                CM 293.4°
12" Spec. x175 / 350                   12" Spec. x175                            12" Spec. x350

This last observation is interesting as it was made at the time of the closest approach of Mars to us.

Observer Rob Moseley

7th August 1988.  C.M.- 18          6th September 1988 C.M. - 47
02.45 U.T.                                  23.30 U.T.

12th September 1988 C.M. - 336     18th September 1988 C.M. - 293      1st October 1988 C.M. - 209
      22.20 U.T.                                      23.00 U.T.                                   00.30 U.T.

Selected, views of Mars made with the 8 ¼" Clark refractor at Rugby School Temple Observatory.  All observations shown were made using an orange filter at x265 (10.5mm Or.).  Most seeing can be classed, as between Ant II and III.

Observer  B. Merrikin.

Date 12th. September 1988
Time 21h 50m to 22h 08m U.T.
Telescope 8 1/2in. Refractor Mag. x265
C.M. 333.2

A faint whitish area was noticed to, the north of Hellas as marked on the drawing, this was confirmed by Barry Merrikin.
The Sinus Sabaeus was easily the darkest feature seen.

Date 19th. September 1988
Time 22h 10m. U.T.
Telescope 8 1/2in. Refractor Mag. x265
C.M. 242.6

Noticed a darkish area to the eastern edge of the Sytis Major.

Date 7th. October 1988
Time 19h 30m U.T.
Telescope 6 1/2in. Refractor with a 6mm Ortho eyepiece
C.M. 74.2

The whole of the disk of Mars was laking in any recognisable features and could only just make out a vague dark marking as shown.

Date 29th. October 1988
Time 22h 30m U-T.
Telescope 8 1/2in. Refractor with a 12.5mm eyepiece
C.M. 280.5

Again a faint whitish area seen to the north of Hellas.

The areas annotated are only an attempt to try and identify the surface markings seen.

Observer Vaughan Cooper

November 4th Star Party at Fenny Drayton

Another successful observing session was held in a field adjacent to the home of Mr. & Mrs. Coultrup our hosts this year.
Right from the start the evening lived up to its expectations of a very clear sky without any passing cloud to cause any interruptions to the proceedings.
The hard core of the committee turn up with various telescopes to show and explain the wonders of the night sky to friends and neighbours of Mr. & Mrs. Coultrup.
In much demand was a view of Mars through my 5in. refractor, faint surface markings and the tiny south polar cap could just be made out and the disk just beginning to show a gibbous phase on its following limb, this effect was particularly noticeable through Ivor Clarke 4in. catadioptic telescope.
Once the interest in Mars became satisfied Jupiter became the next target. A large sharpe image of the planet was apparent to all who looked through the eyepiece and the northern and southern tropical belts were easily seen and remarked on along with three of Jupiter's moons preceding the planet.
At approximately 10.20p.m. Rob. reported the emergence of the fourth moon appearing from behind Jupiters following limb this I found very difficult to see at first.
Rob Moseley picked up a few deep sky gems with his 5in. Celestron Newtonian like the Andromeda galaxy M31 and M33 the faint face on spiral in Triangulum. M33 was a bit of a disappointment as it appeared a lot fainter than I'd expected from such a dark sky.
My own deep sky search stretched as far as 40,000 light years to M15 a globular cluster in Pegasus, this 7th. mag. cluster appeared asa faint fuzzy path of light around 7seconds of arc across and viewed by Steve Payne and his colleague from work, mean while several metres away Barry Merrikin was busy taking timed exposures of the night sky with his camera on a home made portable equatorial mounting.
Towards 11 o'clock the general ground frost and condensation on the optics ceased any further practical observing so a deserved warm up was required before departing for home.
I would like to thank Mr. & Mrs. Coultrup for their kind hospitality to all who attended the observing session as they went to a lot of trouble to lay on for us something to eat a constant supply of tea and coffee and a most welcoming hot water bottle to relieve ones chilled feet, to the committee members who gave up their evening and brought along their telescopes and to Ivor Clarke and Stuart Williams the only two members who turned up, but I wonder what happened to the rest of you.

Ed. V.Cooper.