Observing Log for 2005-10-29

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Location: Billingborough (South Lincolnshire, UK)
From: 2005-10-29 20:47 UT
To: 2005-10-29 22:11 UT
Equipment: Naked Eye
Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M
Temperature: 13.6C
Humidity: 94%

A mostly cloudy evening but I noticed that there was a good sized gap in the clouds moving in so I decided to set the 130M up and have a look at Mars while I had the chance (this being the evening of the closest approach to Earth for this apparition I wanted to try and get a view no matter how short the session might be). Due to the danger of more cloud moving in I didn't have any time to let the 'scope cool down.


Time: 2005-10-29 20:51 UT

I'd just finished setting up the 130M and was just dropping in the 25mm eyepiece when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a meteor. It lasted long enough for my full attention to be drawn to it and I followed it for a good fraction of a second (perhaps a little more).

It moved from east to west and, as best as I could tell, it passed through the Square of Pegasus. It grew steadily brighter until it finally broke up in a shower of smaller pieces which rapidly faded from view. I might even go so far as to suggest it was a fireball.

Sadly, because I was distracted by rushing to set up the 'scope before any more cloud could come over, I didn't spend too much time making any useful notes and double checking the path it took.


From: 2005-10-29 20:53 UT
To: 2005-10-29 22:10 UT

Got Mars centred in the 25mm eyepiece's field of view and then set up and switched on the motor drive. Once I was happy that everything was set up fine and the drive was running okay I immediately went to switch to the 6mm eyepiece. By the time I'd dropped that in cloud had obscured Mars.

By 20:58 UT it had cleared again.

With the 6mm Mars looked very big and very bright. Hardly any hint of colour, looked very white. Noted that, unlike all the other views I've had of Mars this apparition, there was no hint of a phase visible to me. Even without a filter I could see a slight hint of a mark on the surface that looked like a simple dark line.

After a number of combinations I found, at 21:16 UT, that the 10mm eyepiece with the 2x Barlow and the #21 filter offered the best view so far. The dark line was very obvious but indistinct in terms of figuring out any detail and its extent. I did think about sketching it but decided not to given how little there was to make a note of.

There were some moments where the image (which wasn't that unsteady) seemed to become really steady and I thought I saw a hint of further markings. However, as quickly as I noticed them they'd disappear.

By 21:51 UT I'd tried various combinations of lens, barlow and filter but every combination failed to deliver any extra detail. Happily this wasn't a disappointing experience. There was a lot of fun to be had in trying the different combinations and also in simply comparing the view I had with previous views I've had. Mars was visibly bigger (and brighter) than any observation before this one.

By 22:02 UT I was starting to lose Mars behind some thin cloud (and I could see more cloud moving in). It was interesting to note that the thinest cloud appeared to improve the view. At the time I was using the 6mm eyepiece with the #21 filter.

End of session due to cloud

Time: 2005-10-29 22:11 UT
Temperature: 13.1C
Humidity: 95%

By now the sky was totally covered in cloud and Mars was no longer visible. Also, the wind was starting to pick up. Called an end to the session.

Page last modified: 2013-04-09 09:19:19 UT
Dave Pearson <davep@davep.org>
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