BBC Sky at Night Magazine

Making an observatio­n

Augment your views of Mars for useful scientific study


Making an observatio­n of Mars isn’t hard. Make it useful for wider reference by recording the date and time (in Universal Time, UT). Include your name, location and conditions, making a seeing estimate through the eyepiece. The five-point Antoniadi scale (see table, right) is useful for this.

Record the observing instrument along with details of magnificat­ions used. Also record whether filters were used. Images and drawings are normally (but not exclusivel­y) presented south-up with the following (F) and preceding (P) limb directions indicated. Features rotate into view around the F limb, disappeari­ng behind the P limb.

It’s optional but useful to include values for solar longitude (Ls) and the planet’s central meridian longitude (CM). Get these from a program such as the freeware WinJUPOS, Once completed, submit your efforts to an organisati­on such as the British Astronomic­al Associatio­n (BAA) Mars section or the Associatio­n of Lunar & Planetary Observers (ALPO).

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