Mr First Mars for 2009 – at a tiny 4.9 arcseconds

On Tuesday morning, 23rd June 2009 I captured my first image of Mars for 2009. It’s still very early in the season, with Mars still 288 million kilometres away, subtending a tiny diameter of a 4.9″ on the sky.

Mars doesn’t reach opposition until late January, 2010 when it will be 14 arcseconds in diameter – a lot smaller than it was at its closest in 2003, when it grew to 25″ in diameter.

A Tiny Mars, 23rd June 2009

A Tiny Mars, 23rd June 2009

And no, Mars will not be as big as the full moon in August! It’s a hoax 🙂

Continue reading for more information about the capture and processing of the image.

Mars was 25° in altitude when this image was captured, in below average seeing. There’s no visible polar cap right now, but in this image we can see the features of Syrtis Major and the Hellas Basin.

I used my 12″ Newt with the DMK21AU04, and captured at 30fps in all channels for about 1 minute per channel. I stacked approx 300 frames from each channel to create the colour image.

I’d forgotten how different Mars is to capture than other planets when it’s at this altitude. The red channel was by far the brightest, followed by green and blue was less than half as bright as red. It definitely adds a bit of extra challenge to get the colour balance right.

Thanks for looking.

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