Akkana's Mars Sketches: 2003 Opposition

Sketches from the 2003 opposition are presented with south up and east left; sketches made with a star diagonal have been digitally mirrored to match a reflector view.

CM stands for Central Meridian, the line of longitude pointing toward us at the time of the sketch.

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[Mars, 10/14/2003 21:45 PDT CM=320] [Mars, 10/14/2003 23:00 PDT CM=340]
10/14/2003 21:45 PDT. CM=320. 10/14/2003 23:00 PDT. CM=340.
Mars is noticably gibbous now. Hellas is really bright! It's much easier to see than the last rotation -- even on the limb. (Compare the sketches from 9/10, 9/11 and 9/12.) Some people think there's a dust storm which is making it appear brighter. (5" refractor.)
[Mars, 10/4/2003 22:15 PDT CM=60] 10/4/2003 22:15 PDT. CM=60.
[Mars, 9/20/2003 21:15 PDT CM=175] [Mars, 9/20/2003 23:00 PDT CM=200]
9/20/2003 21:15 PDT CM=175.
8" f/6 reflector.
9/20/2003 23:00 PDT CM=200
[Mars, 9/19/2003 23:00 PDT CM=210] 9/19/2003 23:00 PDT CM=210. Yet more poor seeing.
Mare Tyrrhenum (far right) and Cimmerium (center). The northern dark area in the lower right is probably Nilosyrtis, and the lower left may be part of the Propoutis Complex. Trivium Charontis (one of my favorite feature names!) should be just below center on the disk, but it wasn't visible in this seeing. I'll try again tomorrow night.
Notice how tiny the polar cap is now! It's not very white, either.
[Mars: Syrtis Major, 9/14/2003 22:10 PDT CM=245] 9/14/2003 22:10 PDT CM=245. Seeing poor again (it got better later).
[Mars: Syrtis Major, 9/12/2003 22:10 PDT CM=245] 9/12/2003 22:10 PDT CM=245. Fairly steady tonight, finally! Some nice detail around Hellas.
[Mars: Syrtis Major, 9/10/2003 10:35 pm PDT CM=265] [Mars: Syrtis Major, 9/10/2003 11:20 pm PDT CM=295] [Mars: Syrtis Major, 9/11/2003 00:05 pm PDT CM=310]
9/10/2003 21:35 PDT CM=265.
Poor seeing again. Syrtis Major just rotating in; Tyrrhenum center, and Cimmerium rotating off the left. Aeria, the light area immediately adjacent to Syrtis Major on the right limb, was strikingly bright -- it almost looked like a polar cap, like Hellas sometimes looks in other seasons. Hellas itself (small light area above Syrtis) was indistinct and difficult to see. The dark area barely showing in the north (bottom) is Utopia. The white smears above (south of) Cimmerium are called Eridania.
9/10/2003 22:20, CM=295: much steadier now! Syrtis front and center. Lots of interesting detail around Hellas and nearby. 9/11/2003 00:05, CM=310: Sinus Meridiani has just rotated in.
[Mars: Syrtis Major, 9/8/2003 10:35 pm PDT CM=305] 9/8/2003 22:35 PDT CM=305.
Lousy seeing, but Syrtis Major is obvious. I still can't see the Mountains of Mitchel.
[Mars: Sinus Meridiani and Sabaeus, 9/3/2003 10:40 pm PDT CM=350] 9/3/2003 22:40 PDT CM=350.
Poor seeing; low power. But Sinus Meridiani was front and center, and with south up as presented in the C-8 (right), it looked like a Japanese crane drawing. Not a lot of detail, but it was pretty!
[Mars Firebird: Sinus Meridiani, 9/3/2003 10:40 pm PDT CM=350]
[Mars: Sinus Meridiani and Mare Erythraeum, 9/1/2003 11:05 pm PDT CM=15] 9/1/2003 23:05 PDT CM=15.
Better seeing than last night. C-8 with a binoviewer.

Note the rift in the polar cap. This, and the shape in the drawing a few days later, seems to be a foreshadowing of separation of the "Mountains of Mitchel" (a peak which is separate from the SPC but remains snow-capped even after the terrain between it and the cap has melted) as seen in these Donald Parker images. I haven't actually seen the separation yet.

[Mars: Sinus Meridiani and Mare Erythraeum, 8/31/2003 10:35 PDT CM=15] 8/31/2003 22:35 PDT CM=15. Tak 5" refractor. Relatively poor seeing.
Features: Sinus Meridiani (rotating out on the right) and Mare Erythraeum (center); a bit of Solis Lacus rotating in on the left.
[Mars: Lacus Solis and Mare Erythraeum, 8/30/2003 00:10 PDT CM=45] 8/29-30/2003 00:10 PDT CM=45. Fremont Peak, switching off between a C-8 and a Tak 5" with a binoviewer. The seeing was relatively poor, and this time the refractor was winning over the C8, in contrast to last night (see previous entry). The binoviewer helped. Filters (especially orange) helped sometimes but not consistently.
Features: Lacus Solis and Mare Erythraeum.
[Mars, 8/29/2003 CM=30 Takahashi FS128] [Mars, 8/29/2003 CM=35 C-8] Two sketches made twenty minutes apart: the left in a 5" refractor (CM=30), the right in a Celestron 8" SCT (CM=35). Sinus Meridiani is just rotating off the left edge; Solis Lacus is rotating in on the right. The long tail of Margaritifer extends down into the north, almost merging into the darkness of Niliacus Lacus and Acidalia. In the C-8 sketch, Xanthe can be seen to the right of Niliacus Lacus, and there was lots more detail in the south, which doesn't correspond to obvious named features.

8/29/2003 10:20pm PDT (left) and 10:50 PDT (right).

[Mars: Lacus Solis and Mare Erythraeum, 8/26/2003 CM=50] A few nights later than the sketch below. A storm passed through on the night in between, so the seeing was unsettled, but Solis Lacus still shows nicely. Now a bit of Sinus Meridiani is showing on the right, just about to rotate off the limb.

8/26/2003, 10:15 PM PDT, CM=50. 5" refractor (image flipped to match a reflector view).

[Lacus Solis, Eye of Mars, 8/24/2003 CM=75] Lacus Solis, the "Eye of Mars". The chain of laci below the eye is where Vallis Marineris is. Does that mean the canyon is actually visible? Not clear, though I wish I believed it. :-) As to the names and actual shapes of the chain of laci, no two Mars maps agree!
The dark area above (south of) the eye is Aonia. The dark area to the left of the eye is Mare Erythraeum, and Argyre is just rotating off the limb at the left edge of Erythraeum. Mare Sirenium (dark) is rotating in from the right. The dark areas in the north (bottom) are Mare Acidalium and Niliacus Lacus.

8/24/2003, 10:35 PM PDT, CM=75. 5" refractor (image flipped to match a reflector view).

A night on Mt Wilson, 8/22-23/2003: [Mars, 8/22-23/2003] [Mars, 8/22-23/2003]
12:15am, CM 120 : quick sketch trying not to hog the eyepiece. :-) 1:25am, CM 135. Amazing detail was visible through the 60-inch in the dark areas near the "eye". The streaks here aren't "artistic technique"; it really looked like that, and this is my poor attempt to convey all the detail we saw. I wish I'd realized that Vallis Marineris was right there! We might have been able to see it. We did see Olympus Mons and the three Tharsis volcanoes later in the evening, but I don't have a sketch of that.
[Mars, 8/16/2003 CM 145] [Mars, 8/16/2003 CM 170] [Mars, 8/16/2003 CM 190]
8/16/2003 10;30 pm PDT, CM=145. Orange filter. 8" f/6 Newtonian.
Solis Lacus rotating off the limb on the left; Mare Sirenum centered, Mare Cimmerium rotating in on the right.
8/17/2003 12:10 am PDT, CM=170. Orange filter.
More of Cimmerium is visible, and bits of Tyrrhenium begin to show on the west (right) limb.
8/17/2003 1:30 am PDT, CM=190. Red filter.
Even more of Tyrrhenium is showing now.
[Mars, 8/9/2003 CM=225] 8/9/2003, 11:35 PM PDT, CM=225. 8" f/8 reflector.
Mare Cimmerium (left) and Mare Tyrrhenum.
This was part of our Sketch stacking experiment. Chix stack Mars!

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