Saturday, December 10, 2011

Double Whammy

You know you've started to get in to this astronomy lark when you start to notice when the skies look different.

Friday Morning (9/12/11) I was waiting for my bus at 7am and thought that looks like Saturn up there but then about 5 degrees West of it was another red planet. Mars! I rarely see Mars being a late riser but to see the two together was a real plus.

Mars has started it's retrograde orbit when it appears to double back on itself (it happens 71 days every 25 months and is too complicated to explain - I've only just got the hang of it myself!) so the two were placed near each other in the sky.

With that in mind I got up early today (6.30am) and got the scope out and what do you know, wisps of fine cloud! I did get a good view of Saturn, my first this season and a quick glimpse of Mars.

This was my first view of Mars through my scope and it was possibly a bit cold; the scope hadn't "warmed up" sufficiently and everyone's central heating had kicked in but I think I could make out dark spots in the middle of the hazy red blob.

I wasn't able to take pictures as a) the moon was quite bright (but what a moon - eclipse tonight!) and b) the sun was rising however I shall persevere.

Al.