Yesterday afternoon I was not feeling like I wanted to work at the scope after dinner. I decided to get some sleep, get up at 0230 and go out to image Mars. Seeing was forecast to be average, RH would be moderate, and temps in the mid-30s.

The telescope remained set up from the evening before with the planetary imaging setup on back of the scope. I did not check the polar alignment, and FC autoguiding was easily able to keep up with any drift. I should note that it has been two weeks since I last checked polar alignment, so it seems that the bluestone pavers that I put under the tripod legs have settled in and have greatly reduced the amount of misalignment due to sinking tripod legs.

I was outside from 0250 to 0350. The temperature was 35 degrees and RH was 55%. The air was still and there was frost on the grass. The metal table stayed dry and the front glass stayed clear for the entire session. I was a little chilly, but was ok for the entire hour. I found that putting my right hand back inside of a glove as soon as I am finished using it, even if it is for just a few seconds, makes a difference. I don’t know why I am not using hand warmers.

I had arranged the cables so that I could easily grab and connect the cables that I needed. All of this was assuming that I would be working on the same side of the scope as the night before, but Mars had crossed the meridian by the time I was out. I had to move the table and cables.

I checked focus on Aldebaran before slewing to Mars, which I did not do the previous night. I found that the focus that I had set the night before was marginally off. I meant to check the focus once I was on Mars, but I forgot.

Valles  Marineris was close to the central meridian.  I am hopeful that I have captured it through better focus and its more central placement. I set the gain to 400 and needed shutter values of 1 to 3ms to get an 80% histogram. I shot a single run of IR, R, G and B to make an IR and an RGB image as I did yesterday. ROI was 416 x 382px, and the frame rate average was 472 for a total of over 40k frames captured in each filter.

I noticed in Stellarium that Phobos was coming out from behind Mars, so I attempted to capture it with 250ms, 500ms and 1s runs of 30 frames each. I did not see Phobos on the display, so maybe stacking will bring it out. Just for grins I shot one more RGB sequence on Mars after the three attempts to capture Phobos.

Other than processing, I have no new to-do items. I am anxious to complete transition to the laptop as my remote/scope-side computer.

Mars - 2022-11-23 08:19 UTC

Leave a Reply