Mars returns to opposition in April.
Yep, it's be a couple of years since we've had some close up views of Mars.
At the best of times, it's still a relatively small planet as they go, however as Spring
arrives, it can be seen rising in the East.
One of the fascinating things about the red planet is, it's distinct red colour.
Its rotational orbit is 24 hours and 39 minutes, so you can see various features through
the duration of an evening.
A good quality apochromatic refractor is of great use here.
The Meade 80mm, 115mm or 130mm are prime for this kind of observing.
You'll get good contrast, and high quality images. Regardless of what telescope
you are using, remember the 50x per inch of aperture rule applies.
And for goodness sakes, use decent quality eyepieces, which will produce contrast here.
Plossl's are about the worse eyepieces you can use for planetary observing. In most
cases too soft, quality orthoscopics produced by Vernonscope, under the Brandon
moniker are the cat's meow.
You can read up on them at www.khanscope.com, just go to the eyepiece section.
In fact, we are now carrying them again, after I pulled out my old set and tested them
out recently, I was quite impressed with resolution of these reasonably priced oculars,
and thanks to a customer who reminded me of just how good they really are!
TeleVue are 1st choice, and explore scientific's are not bad either if you are on a budget.
There is quite a bit to seen on Mars, and I will talk about that in future emails, but for
now, just get ready.
It's gonna be a planetary ride.
Ray "red planet" Khan
PS Is there life on Mars? Why are we so fascinated by it? All good questions, all to be answered in
the realm of time and space.