Mars on July 20, 2003

On the date that this image was taken, Mars had brightened to magnitude -2.0 and was about 20 arc-seconds in diameter. Opposition was still over a month away, and the planet was only 93% illuminated from our vantage point. The distance between Earth and Mars was still more than 70,000,000 kilometers. The southern polar ice cap was relatively large and was easily seen even in small amateur scopes. At about this time in 2001, a dust storm broke out in the Hellas basin and quickly spread to envelope nearly the entire planet. It was the largest dust storm observed on Mars in 30 years, and obscured any surface details that might otherwise have been visible. Mars would not have been a very good place to spend your summer vacation that year.

This was taken on my first night of imaging with a ToUcam webcam. This image was taken from my backyard in Scottsdale, Arizona, with a Mewlon-210 scope carried on an EM-10 mount. A Takahashi VariExtender was used to lengthen the focal length of the scope to about f18.4.

Constellation: Aquarius
RA: 22h 53m 10.3s Dec: -13d 03' 13"
June 20, 2003
Image by Sid Leach
Scottsdale, Arizona

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