Mars Observed from a 10-inch Telescope

January 18, 2012

Mars Observed

Photographer: John Chumack; John’s Web site
Summary Author: John Chumack; Jim Foster

Mars is now much brighter and closer than it was just a month ago. When this image was acquired on January 5, 2012, Mars was 9.36 arc seconds in diameter, nearly twice the size it appeared in early December. From my backyard observatory near Dayton, Ohio, I could easily detect some of the Red Planet’s surface features including its north polar cap – it looked like a Christmas tree ornament hanging in the night sky. Mars is getting closer to us, and sometime between the end of February to the beginning of March it’ll be at its largest (13.8 arc seconds) during this current two-year cycle. Please don’t think Mars will ever get as big as the Moon appears, as it’s made to look in those silly images that circulate every year or so. At its closest approach, it won't look much bigger than it does now. To observe Mars, look for it well after nightfall in the eastern sky, near the constellation of Leo. The shot above was captured with a 10 in (25 cm) telescope on the morning of January 5, 2012 at approximately 7:00.

Photo details: 10-inch Meade SCT telescope; DMK 21AF04 fire-wire Camera (640x480); 2x Barlow lens; 3,300 frames stacked in Registax6.