Log, Nov 11, 2005

48 people. Mars was the big hitter of the night besides the hard hitting first major frost. We had literally a dozen people look at Mars wrapped up in a blanket. Most of the rest just shivered while old timers Ernie, Nick and I were wrapped in extra layers of clothing. Talk about overkill. I had an insulated cap, an inner and outer hood as well. Then again, I was warm all night and he stayed the (literally) BITTER END. Take a hint to the wise; bring an extra layer beyond what you'll need. You'll need it on a night in the twenties or lower.

Lots of people kept asking "Why isn't Mars red"? Well, there are several reasons. First of all Mars is a sandy brownish color more than red. It’s redder than other planets but since the other planets don't claim to be red this is hardly a surprise. The second reason Mars doesn't seem very red is the eye. It simply doesn't see red as well in low light levels. I suppose we could take a hint from the Turner movies and "colorize" Mars with a red filter but what fun is that? Now maybe a blue filter or an opaque IR filter. In any case Mars looked approximately like the insert last night. The polar cap was definitely blue white and the bands (some saw a pair of "dots") were also bluish. We saw Mare Cimmerium and Mare Sirenum last night. The great mountains were also facing us but no one seems to have seen them. It needs lucky shadows from the Sun or clouds on Mars to make them easily visible.

We also saw M15 (rather poor in the moonlight), M42 (never poor) with five stars in the Trapezium, the Moon (Tycho was really fine last night, and so was a half crater right on the terminator), and the Pleiades. I also bravely lead a warm up party into the Nature Center.

Ernie and I tried to catch a view of Deimos and Phobos with a specially modified 308 power Ramsden occulting bar eyepiece. No trace of Deimos at about 2.5 Mars diameters out but both Ernie and I are fairly confident we saw Phobos. Moonlight made catching an 11th magnitude point of light hard.

It was a fine evening all and all.

-Les Coleman

Leslie Coleman
Leslie Coleman
Entry Date:
Nov 11, 2005
Published Under:
Leslie Coleman's Log
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