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Observing Report: Planet Mars

by Richard Orr, used by permission

DATE: 12 August 2003, 1:00 am to 3:00 am (Local Time)

LOCATION: Columbia, Maryland


  • Astro-Physics 155mm f7 EDF Apochromat Refractor, 1.7x Barlow, TeleVue 4mm Radian (464x) and 3mm Radian (619x)
  • 60mm Monolux Doublet Achromat f15 Refractor, 8mm Radian (114x). The 60mm refractor is a Japanese made 1960's vintage instrument of 910mm focal length. It was the authors first scope, cost $100 in the early 1960's; he has never been able to part with it.
  • TeleVue Bandmate Mars Type A, and Bandmate Mars Type B,
  • Baader Skyglow,
  • Color Filters: Red #25, Blue #80A, Green #58, Orange #21, Yellow #15


SEEING: Excellent

NOTES: Very stable until 3:15AM when it became too overcast to continue. Thin clouds and fog were present the whole observing time but Mars held steady at high powers. Dew was a problem and half way through the view session I had to resort to the Kendrick system. The Bandmate type B preformed better on the 155mm refractor producing the most detail for any single filter used of the ones listed above. The Type B is a real winner. This was a much better night than yesterday when I tested the new Mars filters with the TeleVue 85mm refractor.

On the 60mm refractor (mounted on top of the 155mm) even without filtering the South Pole Cap, Mare Tyrrhenum, Mare Cimmerium, and Mare Sirenum could be made out without any difficulty at 114x. The little refractor is an achromat doublet f/15 of good quality. Using the filters listed above the most pleasant filtered views in descending order were with the 1) Mars Type B, 2) Mars Type A, 3) Skyglow, 4) yellow #15 and then 5) orange #21. The orange was a bit too dark for the little refractor. Also the Mars Type A and the Skyglow were really so close that I could have called it a tie. None of the filters presented more details than another in the smaller refractor. My guess would be that this would also hold true for TeleVue's smaller 70mm refractors as well.

Most of the time was spent with the 155mm Apo refractor. Here I could really put the filters to work. There was little doubt that the Mars Type B was the best of the lot. After tonight if I only could use one filter on Mars the Type B would be it. Using the Type B, I was able to catch the Hyblaeus extension and the North Polar Hood using the same filter. Also Syrtis Minor stood out along the western edge of Mars even thou it was just emerging from morning clouds. The South Polar Cap showed an irregular pattern and subtle color variations within the cap proper. There was more detail than I could capture in the drawing. It just does not get any better.

The Type B could not tease out the detail on Mars that I could alternating between a Red #25, Green #58, and Blue 80A. The Blue filter was especially reveling when looking at the limb clouds, Hellas and the details within the South Polar Cap. If I only had two filters to view Mars I would augment the Type B with a blue filter. I believe that hardcore Mars observers will still prefer to alternate standard color filters when working with Mars. They will produce detail equal to or exceeding the Mars Type B filter plus the use of the standard filters do provide insight into the identification of what is seen on the Mars surface and in the atmosphere. Something that is more difficult to do with a single filter.

However, for those amateur astronomers who want to enjoy Mars without dissecting the planet to death with multiple filter/eyepiece exchanges then one of the Bandmates may be what you want. I prefer the Type B but I bet most will like the Mars color that is shown with the Type A.

I have tested a lot of TeleVue equipment over the years and ended up not buying it for my own use. Then again there is a lot of TeleVue equipment that I have purchased. I will be buying the Type B. I spend an average of two hours each observing period with Mars. With the introduction of the Bandmate Type B to my set of Mars accessories for the 6.1" refractor, I will likely start by observing Mars with no filter then use the Type B filter for making my initial drawing, followed by teasing out details with the standard Red, Green, and Blue filters and finish with a run of the Sirius Optics VFS. Overkill, probably, but I would hate to miss something.

Mars Image 2 by Richard Orr (4,576 bytes)

CM = 2:00AM = 199 degrees
Telescope = 155mm Refractor, Magnification = 464x & 619x
Filters: Bandmate Mars Type 2 (augmented with Red #25, Green #58, Blue #80A)
Size = 24.1", Phase = 98%, Magnitude = -2.6 (Image size 4,576 bytes)

Mars Image 4 by Richard Orr (3,001 bytes)

CM = 3:00AM = 214 degrees
Telescope = 155mm Refractor, Magnification = 619x
Filters: Green #58 & Blue #80A
Size = 24.1", Phase = 98%, Magnitude = -2.6 (Image size 3,001 bytes)


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