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Archive for the ‘Mars’ Category

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7:44 AM CST December 4, 2012 (13:44 UT). 8″ reflector telescope, 25mm eyepiece, LG VX8360 cell phone camera. Click to enlarge.

In other news, it’s likely that the whiff of organic matter detected by the Curiosity probe on Mars is a by-product of its own testing process, but feel free to check out the details for yourself:

Curiosity Gets a Whiff of Organic Matter

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It certainly wasn’t the first spacecraft landing on Mars. Indeed, I vividly recall being glued to the TV as Viking 1 landed on Mars, thirty-six years ago. I was eleven. But the Curiosity landing definitely is the biggest Mars landing ever, in more ways than one. Here’s a skyandtelescope.com article. I especially enjoy the photo of Curiosity taken from 200 miles away by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter:

Touchdown! Curiosity Lands in Gale Crater

To celebrate, I’m rerunning arguably my two best Mars photos, though you’ll see why I don’t post many Martian photos. My low-budget cell phone astrophotography doesn’t show much of Mars except that it’s round and perhaps slightly reddish. Jupiter with its planet-sized moons, Saturn’s rings, and Venus’ phases show up much better with my pocket camera. But, here goes:

Mars at 7:38 AM CST January 28, 2012 (13:38 UT), 8″ reflector telescope, 25mm eyepiece with 2x Barlow.

Perhaps more interesting in a way is this photo from August last year, Mars and the Moon in conjunction:

Here’s the Moon the last three mornings, all with 8″ reflector telescope and 25mm eyepiece:


5:31 AM CDT August 5, 2012 (10:31 UT)


6:11 AM CDT August 6, 2012 (11:11 UT)


6:05 AM CDT August 7, 2012 (11:05 UT)

All with LG VX8360 cell phone camera. Click to enlarge.

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Don’t miss the striking triangle now being formed in the western sky after sundown by Saturn, Mars, and Spica. These objects are assembling in our sky even as the Curiosity Mars Rover approaches its hair-raising landing on Mars. Here are the details:

Meanwhile, my own ultra-low-budget space mission continues, which, for any newcomers, is to explore the Solar System from the relative safety of my backyard, using my good old dusty, trusty homebuilt 8″ reflector telescope and LG VX8360 cell phone camera, and leaving virtually no carbon footprint on this planet or anyone else’s. Here’s Saturn at 9:22 PM CDT August 4, 2012 (02:22 UT August 5, 2012), via the aforementioned telescope using 25mm eyepiece and 2x Barlow.

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