Monday 21 January 2008

2008-01-19: Mars one month after the oposition

During the last weekend, the Moon and Mars were in a conjuntion of less than two degrees. Of course, we met for the event. So, Alberto Martos, Fernando Rodriguez and me were in the backyard of Alberto's house "Villa Urania" in Villaviciosa de Odón with all our equipment to register the astronomic encounter. The following image shows the conjuntion. It was taken with a Canon400D camera with a 300 mm APO objective around 23:45 GMT.

Of course, the real excuse for the meeting was to observe and image Mars. Still it is very close to its oposition, nearly one month after, and it is possible to take detailed pictures of the surface.

The Mars imaging was performed around 23:30 GMT with a 8" SCT with a Toucam Pro webcam, a blocking NIR filter and a two Barlow lens ensemble. The focal length of the SCT telescope is 2 meters. Therefore, the effective focal length using together one 2x and one 3x Barlow lens should be around 12 meters! (probably the effect is not exactly multiplicative... a detailed calculation should be made...). The captured video tracks were stacked with REGISTAX and the histograms modified to show the best contrast. Additionally, an unsharp mask was applied to enhance as possible the contrast of the surface details. The following image shows the final result.

The next image resulted forcing slightly the histogram and sharpening modifications.

Several video tracks were captured also using a NIR pass filter. However, the high attenuation introduced by the Barlows difficulted greatly the focussing. As a consequence any of the captures have produced acceptable NIR images.